My husband told me this story over the weekend, and I thought you should hear it.
Imagine, he said, that you’re walking in a warm, green field.
The breeze flutters past you through the grasses, and you hear birds in the trees. The kind that remind you of childhood. You sit down under a tree, and the shade makes the air just right. You close your eyes, feeling the cooled ground underneath you.
A friend walks up and quietly joins you. You can’t see them, but you know they’re there. After several minutes, they lean over to you and whisper:
“This is Gettysburg.”
How might you feel?
The moment was good before – one to remember, even. But that small piece of information changes it even further. Suddenly it’s not just a pleasant day, but one steeped in greater meaning based on what happened here before, and what it means to you.
I can’t stop thinking about this story, and what it tells us.
It’s beautiful to me.
Certainly, few things in our lives (if any) can draw a comparison to Gettysburg, and I wouldn’t try to.
But the idea that a simple piece of information – context – can change the meaning of a moment, a day, a place, a photo – is powerful.
Like when you see a photo on someone’s wall, and they tell you it was the last time they saw their grandmother, or the first time they met their husband – suddenly it means something new. It’s not the same photo.
Or in even smaller ways – say you’re sitting next to a stranger in the dentist waiting room, and you find out it’s their birthday. You might wish them happy birthday, let them go ahead of you, hold the door for them, throw a smile and wave when you leave. Just a little bit of meaning gives direction to what you do.
Now, I certainly love the great neighborhood of the Internet.
It lets me keep in touch with friends and share photos of my kid with his grandparents. It lets me speak to you and hear what you have to say in return.
But if there’s one thing I mourn, it’s that sometimes we lose context. We see people in tiny boxes – literally – a photo and the tiniest sample of their words. And we don’t tend to take as much time to seek out little pieces of context that might change how we view the day, the photo, their words.
I’ve noticed this over the past five years as I’ve talked to photographers and artists.
I’ll chat with them over Skype and – inescapable as my 7 years of psychology background is – I tend to ask a lot of questions about them. And the answers tumble out, rich and full. And no matter who they are, I’m soon stunned.
This person has the ability to really SEE love, and to help us see it too.
That person wants to make a studio a safe, quiet, warm space for a new mother to retreat to – because that’s what they longed for after they had a kid.
That guy over there is a second-generation wedding photographer, and has watched weddings evolve over four decades as he himself grew.
I’ve had so many times when I meet with someone and feel emotion rising in my throat as I see their context, their reasons for their work.
And then sometimes, I go to their online space – and – well…
It’s not there. There are only boxes. Pictures, with a few words next to them.
It’s like someone put their personality through a sieve and so many beautiful parts didn’t trickle onto the screen.
I want people to be able to see more of you.
Because the meaning of your photos, your art, your work – will change. It’ll change in a way that connects people to you, in a way that you can’t really make up for in bought ad space or increasing Google rank, useful though those things may be.
I want to be able to see the meaning behind what you do. Visitors want to see their own meaning reflected in it. It will change everything.
I don’t make new classes very often. But for the past year, I’ve steadily worked on one, and taught it to small groups.
And today, it’s here.
It’s called Irresistible You.
And it will help you put more context around yourself as you work in your business. Distill those beautiful coffee shop conversations you wish you could have with every visitor, and drip them out (or drench – as your preference may be) onto any online place you touch.
So that people will see your work differently, because they see more than just the work on the page.
They see you.
I’ll have more for you this week, some useful tools to help.
But I hope today you’ll check out Irresistible You and consider –
what might happen if people saw more of you behind your work? What if visiting your site felt more like sitting down with you – the rich, full-of-beautiful-context you – and they felt swept away by your presence?