Not the kind from South Park — the kind from the past.

Don and Tina came by for dinner tonight. Don is a guy that used to work for me in a prior managerial experience, and was himself a manager at the company before leaving to pursue his passion: woodworking.

Don makes very nice looking (and sturdy!) solid wood furniture out of his home. The business is just starting, and he is beginning to get a reputation from his co-workers for building really solid product. That’s cool. Don jumped out on this limb last year, and basically (from our perspectives) came out of nowhere with this.

He keeps saying it’s easy to step out on that limb. You just have to want to. However, like the monkey I am, I cling to the tree that is the Corporate World, and am just not brave enough to step out and make a go on my own. Corporate World, for all its shortcomings, politics and sense of loss of control, for better or worse, provides predictable pay, and if you don’t rock the boat too much, you can last out a career’s time and make it to retirement. At what cost though?

When I look back on the last twenty or so years of working in this field, I can look back and only see one instance where I impacted the world — that was while I was in the Air Force. The rest of the time, I’ve helped feed hungry companies: saving one insurance company a cool half-million a month, helping another insurance company continue its business despite its desire to self-immolate, and keeping my current employer handling its business. And, while each has treated me well, paid me well, and worked me awfully hard, I can’t look at those gigs and derive a huge sense of impact. No one changed their mind about polluting the Earth, or preventing global warming, or saw something for the first time that made them stop and ponder. Nothing life impactful.

Now, there’s not a lot of folks out there that — through music, prose, images, sculpture or any other art — have made a huge impact on this Big Blue Marble. I know that, and it’s wishful thinking to think that I’m anywhere near that kind of talent and skill. However, I’d take a few small battles along the way, and make a little lasting impact here and there. That’d be nice.

I have to admit, Don does inspire me to ponder just what it would take to take that step. Mornings like yesterday, spent in the company of my daughter, enjoying the crispness of a late winter’s sunrise on a nice photo shoot surely make me think hard about trying the manhandle the mirrors necessary to pull off a successful solo photo career. And if not solo, then at least doing that for some organization that appreciates that kind of work.

Don — in the same vein as Karen and others — looked at my work tonight and was taken aback with what I’ve been shooting over the last year, and commented on how much better I’ve gotten. Karen’s said the same thing, and both of them question why I’m not out there, peddling my wares and pushing to make a name for myself.

I can sum it up in one simple sentence: I’m terrified. I don’t want to wager the house, car, cameras, and future in case striking out on my own were just a pipe dream, and not profitable enough to handle my family’s needs. What if, what if…..

What if a frog had wings? He wouldn’t bump his butt on the ground when he jumped. I’m that frog, and I need to figure out where my wings are…..