“Did you ever think that you would be this rich? Did you ever think that you would have these hits? Did you ever think that you would be the Don? Have a crib with the 50-acre lawn? Did you ever think that you would be this paid? Were there times when your ass was real afraid? Did you ever think that you would sell out tours? Have a show with 50 million viewers?” R. Kelly
Kells dropped that track back in the late 1990s and, as I sit in our Airbnb in Houston at 3:08 AM looking at the progress of my photography, I had to take a moment to sit in awe and ask myself “Did you ever think?”. This thought started with me looking at photos from 7 months ago and seeing how I’ve developed from a point-and-shoot photographer to a decent amature, but then I thought bigger than that. I looked back into my writings and took an honest inventory over my intellectual maturation and I realize that I never see where I am going but it is always in the direction of greater things.
On the flight to Houston yesterday, I restarted one of my favorite books, George Orwell’s 1984. Though I’ve loved the parallels in this work of art since I first read it in either Mr. Ruffle’s or Ms. Job’s English class, my reimersion into the book made me say “Wow! I liked this book on a surface level but now, as an aware adult who has not only a stake but also a say in the political processes of this nation, I am so much more invested in the unorthodoxy of Winston Smith as being necessary.” But I never would have thought that deeply on it in 9th or 10th grades.
How much do we do that we never saw ourselves doing? Even 5 years ago, upon graduation, I never saw myself traveling as much as I have in the past 24 months. I’ve gotten seven stamps on my passport and been to thirteen states and the District in what seems like no time, having visited a few of them multiple times. I’ve been both jobless and unable to pay rent and, a year and a half later, an arm’s length from six figures, only to be humbled again. I’ve endured great loss, found great joy, and experienced the onset of depression, only to witness the emergence of new life, making me more grateful than ever for life’s cyclical process.
Living is pretty cool like that. It forces you to put things in perspective, see where you’ve come from, where you are, and realize that, though life has its ebbs and flows, it could always be worse and it will always get better.
So, I beseech you to go and find an early version of something you love. Whether music or visual art or writing or a report from work or something you built with your own hands. And look at a more recent version of a like item. Appreciate that maturation and then examine another area of growth in your life. And another. And, before you know it, you’ll be thanking God for all that He’s brought you through and to.
There’s something greater. And there’s something tougher. Both will come. But always have hope in that which is greater.
Make personal development a priority.