Fulfill Yourself

DeWitt Jones
April 13, 2017

DeWitt Jones

Award-Winning National Geographic Photographer

“Get so stoked on life that you’re just about to burst.”

It was just a wave, one of millions that have washed up on this unnamed beach. This one, I’m watching through my lens. And for one brief moment as it rolls toward the shore, the sun fills its crest with liquid light.

This light fills my heart as well. I can barely contain the joy this vision gives me, and I feel as if I, too, am about to spill over. The shot will last only as long as the hard drive I store it on, but the experience of this moment will last a lifetime. Every time I think of that wave, or see the image in a print or on my computer screen, it fills me up again.

START WITH JOY

My mother used to say, “Dewitt, begin each day with a full cup, and if it’s not full when you wake up, then make darn sure you fill it!” Mom knew the value of the full cup, of being so stoked on life that you’re just about to burst.

Keeping our spiritual “cups” full is one of the greatest gifts of photography. Whether we make a living shooting pictures or not, photography has the potential to fill us with beauty and energy and joy.

The importance of my mother’s full cup really hit home for me when I was asked to teach a seminar on creativity at a company in New Jersey.

While doing research, I found that the company’s motto was “Price is all!”

“Wow,” I thought, “there’s a vision that could drain my cup in a New Jersey minute.”

 

INVENTORY YOUR EMOTIONAL ASSETS

I arrived at the firm on a raw March day and was ushered into a conference room with 40 top salespeople. All men, all tough, all wondering why they had to take time from their busy days to listen to some photographer.

“Well, here goes,” I thought and started my talk. About half way through I brought up the full cup. Blank stares. “A cup?” these men seemed to be asking. “No, it’s the full bank account, that’s what counts!”

Well, maybe, but as Mom used to say, “You can’t run a human being on empty.”

I asked everyone to take out a sheet of paper and list ten things that filled their cups. Pens moved very slowly. Some didn’t move at all. “Some of these guys really are running on empty,” I thought.

The longer I waited, the more unease there was in the room. Finally, I said, “O.K., after each of the ‘cup fillers’ you’ve written down, write down the date of the last time you filled your cup.”

Again I waited. The pens were crawling, barely moving.

Suddenly, in the middle of the room, one man put down his pen and buried his head in his hands. Softly, he began to cry. The page in front of him was blank…completely blank. No cup fillers…no dates. Nothing.

 

RESOLVE TO REPLENISH

I couldn’t quite believe what was happening. Neither could the men around him. There was a long awkward silence and then the murmuring started. Two men walked over to comfort him. The murmuring grew louder and finally burst into one of the more amazing discussions I’ve ever witnessed.

The men in that room got it. They saw and felt, at a very deep level, just how important the full cup was. There were a lot of resolutions that day about keeping their cups full, and I’d wager many of those resolutions have been kept. “Price is all” somehow fell away.

As I sit here now, looking at magnificent wave images on my computer screen, a voice whispers in my head, “Begin every day with a full cup. And if it’s not full when you wake up, then make darn sure you fill it!”

Thanks, Mom.

DeWitt Jones

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