One of the things I like most about Birmingham is that you can drive from one end of town to the other and encounter infinite possibilities. It’s like living in a huge city, but you still have the small-town Southern feel. Last night, we went downtown for dinner and it was like an entirely different place. Different even from other places I have been in downtown Birmingham. As we drove home with the windows down, we passed huge expanses of green lawns with people playing and picnicking, right in the heart of the city. There is just something about not having to go very far to experience a new environment that intrigues me about this place. It’s very hard for me to describe it. Maybe it’s just something you have to experience.
Living here has been a great learning experience for me in more ways than just photography. Yesterday I had the opportunity to listen to Anne Moore, the CEO of Time Inc., speak to all the interns. She had a lot of words of wisdom about her learning experiences. One of the most interesting things I learned from her was how much influence young people have had on such a huge company. She talked about how important it is to remember to listen to the opinions of us youngsters because we often have a different take on the issues or a different perspective on the world.
She also talked about how many choices people have today and how that makes things harder rather than easier. There is always that thought in the back of your mind wondering what would have happened if you had chosen differently. About the road not taken. It is a curiosity many people are inflicted with daily. The paths our lives take are a result of the choices we make every day. A different choice would have led down a different path, and possibly a different life.
The things that brought me to Birmingham, looking back on it, all fell quite inexplicably into place. So many things had to happen in order for this opportunity to occur. One of many things was being stranded in the Atlanta airport last August after my flight to New York took off without me. This turn of events, tragic at the time, allowed me to fly to Birmingham in April to interview for free. When I look at the big picture of my life, this is just one of many events that are leading me down this particular path. One of many choices.
I reflect on the opportunities I passed up in life all the time and how choosing differently may have changed the person I am today. What would have happened down that other path? But when I sit back and examine the choices I have made and the road I am traveling down right now, I wouldn’t change much. In a life that’s like a city, where a wrong turn could lead you somewhere you actually always wanted to see, there are too many opportunities to not explore them and see what’s waiting for you on a new and different path.