I thought I would have more time here, to finish projects, visit more places, and photograph this incredible place more. It's been hard accepting that my time in Montana as a resident is at an end, and that from now on, when I visit, it will be as an outsider. Perhaps I always was one here, trying to make a living and etch out a piece of pie for myself and my family. Perhaps this was always supposed to be just temporary, a two year whirlwind of mountains, clouds, sunsets, bears, elk, small town life, and big big skies. Perhaps I was never meant to live here for longer.
It certainly has felt more and more like this is the case, as my partner was laid off at the beginning of the year, and I have struggled, and ultimately failed, to gain new clients and build a sustainable business. The thing is, this photography thing, it's what I need to do. If I can't do it, and don't have clients, or interest in my work in a meaningful way, then I can't stay here.
This isn't a sad post, though, despite my disappointment. It is a thankful one. Montana, though our time together was short, was such a needed reprieve for me. I came here, as many have since done, from the bustling, overcrowded shores of California. There, I had long felt the weight of too many people, too much noise, and too much chaos, and what I craved was what Montana had on offer: peace. This sounds trite, but these open spaces, small towns, and wildness where just the thing to help me reset, recenter, and learn. I thought I had something to offer when I came here, but instead have taken, and learned, and grown so much. I have been given a chance to breath, and my images have, as a result, become both more introspective but also at ease. I've welcomed this change, and look forward to carrying it on.
While here, I participated in MAP, a state-wide and state sponsored entrepreneur program aimed at helping artists transition to business owners. This program, probably more than any university class, has helped to prepare me for launching in a different market, and has given me invaluable tools to aid in my success. Additionally, I have learned that I simply am not successful in many job settings, and that what I really need, really crave, is to be my own boss. I think that prioritizing this will allow me to be successful, and to not get bogged down with things that ultimately lead me nowhere.
Lastly, I have relearned that the world is a big place. I was lucky enough to travel fairly extensively when I was young, ultimately spending two years abroad in Europe and in Asia. I learned through those travels how expansive our little planet is, but had forgotten in the drudgery of adulthood and failure. This landscape has reawakened my curiosity, and love of the unknown, of the unfathomable. Of that awe which only nature can inspire. If my time here had only given me this, I would be eternally grateful.
So, in short, although I am leaving, my time here was not a waste, and I was not a failure. This was merely one of the steps in my life which will lead me down my own path. Madison, Wisconisin, and the midwest await me, and I can finally say that I welcome this chance, and change. I love Montana, but new chances, opportunities, and experiences await.