Modern Cinderella: a story about a shoe and about the search for vocation


On that day I was out since morning to photograph the tulip park of Grand Bigard at the outskirts of Brussels (you can read about that and see the photos in my previous post). But it often happens that when you set a goal, what you find along, or better said around, the way there is more interesting than your actual target. This is true especially when it comes to photography. Little had I imagined that I would take other photographs than of flowers on that day. Around two in the afternoon, dehydrated, starving, with my blood sugar low and having back and belly pains because of my period – all in all in a quite miserable state 🙂 – I was making my exit from the gardens of Grand Bigard, happy though about my “capture” of photographs. I still had ahead a long way to get home and I was crawling along the dusty road in the two o’clock sun, passed the train station, making my way to the tram station that was another kilometre down the road, just dreaming of the moment when I would crash on a chair in the tram that would take me home.

And just then I saw something glittering in a garden, behind a fence. It was a shoe, abandoned there. But what a shoe!! The moment I saw it, I knew I had to photograph it. I stuck my hand through a little hole in the wire fence, reaching for the shoe. Luckily there were no people on the street, to see me on my knees, with my hand through the fence, not that it would have mattered. I scratched myself while pulling the shoe out, my face bore marks from the wire fence, my jeans were of course dirty, but who cared?! I was kind of possessed, like usually when I have an idea for a photograph. Then I just had to find a proper location for the shoe. Lady Fantasy was kind to me and sent inspiration, so I walked back victoriously to the train station, all pains forgotten, walked some hundreds meters along the train tracks to find a good spot…and there you have the photo: Modern Cinderella.

PS: Some time after I took this photo and wrote the post, I read this book by Ken Robinson: “The Element: How finding your passion changes everything”, which calls this state – when you forget about yourself, but you feel more yourself than ever while doing something that you love – “being in your Element”; the Element being that point where what you enjoy to do and what you are good at come together.

But no metter how we call it, I believe it is so important to discover what is it that we really love to do. In my case, I always liked taking photos (like half of the planet I guess 🙂 ) and sometimes people would tell me I have a good eye for it, but I never took it seriously, even as a hobby. That is until a couple of years ago, when I realized I couldn’t stay more than one year in a job (and trust me, I did a lot of different kinds of jobs, from translations to customer support), because I became so bored and utterly demotivated about what I was doing, that I had to quit. Again and again. Something had to change. My CV already looked like a multi-coloured patched blanket.

And then I started to ask myself what is it that I really like to do. I know, many would say a job is just a job, it pays the bills and assures the pension and that it is a luxury of the happy few to do what they love. But I don’t think so any more. It’s  question that must be asked. And once you start asking yourself questions, it’s like opening the gates of your mind and soul to the unknown. But you also find answers you hadn’t imagined before. Even though sometimes this way seems uncertain and scary, I’m happy that I asked myself that question. One thing that came out of it is that I started this blog, which I’m really happy about. And I enrolled in a photography course and I discovered that I love dancing and yoga and writing, among other things. And I know that, even if I will not make a career out of any of these activities, they will always stay with me, even after everything else will be gone, jobs, money, houses, relationships. It’s who I am.

How about you, what is it that you love to do? Have you found your “Element”? Have you always known what it was or have you discovered it later in life? Are you making a living out of it? I hope to hear from you.

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This entry was posted in Abstract, Fine art photography, Street photography and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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