Law of common fate

I’m having trouble grasping reality. Better yet, I could say that I am having a hard time accepting what reality has to be.

So far my life has been the flow of an assembly line. A finished product, or systematic machine, will ultimately be produced. For now, I go to school, do the work, get the grades, and move down the conveyor belt. Repeat. The cogs turn and collide against each other, sometimes causing friction but they always keep turning. With each new stage, a new cogwheel is added. By the time I graduate, I’m supposed to be able to take on my “field” and be a “professional” because I’ve been through the process of being assembled and OK’d by my manufacturer.

Once I finally get my degree in four more semesters, I’ll be able to look back on 16 years of school and preparation and apply it to being an expert in my field. I’ll be a certified tool, developed by the University of Kentucky.

I think most importantly, my education has taught me that I don’t want to limit myself to what that degree is going to say. I’m sure I’ll probably work for a newspaper when I graduate, and I know that there is honor in that. I believe journalism keeps society together and crucially informed (if you want to debate the role of journalism sometime, I would be glad to publish another blog post). But I believe I can take my natural empathy for people and apply it, with the ethics and documentary skills I’ve learned through school, to do something bigger than shooting every day photos.

It seems there is a time and a place in a career for that. And I believe I have more experience and exploration to acquire before I can just take off and start developing what I want to do, and what I want to build. But I don’t think I’m far from it.


4 Responses to “Law of common fate”

  1. You’re a tool alright.

    Sorry. Couldn’t help it. This is actually a very nice, poignant post.

  2. I don’t think you’re very far from it either. In fact, you’re much closer than you probably think.

  3. It’s never too early to take off and start developing what you want to do. That is how you really begin to explore and experience what you actually want to do in life. A bird doesn’t get to fly if he doesn’t jump out of the nest with faith and take a risk.

  4. Brad, reading your post on the Law of Common Fate I think you’d find common ground with a lot of PJ students. The idea of being a cog in machine is exactly why I push you guys so often to shoot on your own, to do more than is necessarily provided to you through the Kernel and classes. That is how you get better, how you beat the machine. If you only do what the machine makes you do, you’ll only be as good as the machine and all the other products it produces. You (and the other students who are regulars at the Kernel) have the potential (and the desire, according to your post) to be much more than just a “product” produced by a machine.

    When you (I’m saying this collectively) take the responsibility of your “assembly” away from the machine and put it in your own hands that’s when you have the potential to truly do something great. The catch with that is that it takes effort, passion, drive, and self-motivation. The path less traveled is overgrown because not many people have the fortitude to tread new ground, but if you do it’s worth it and you’ll become the photographer that you hope to be.

    I put an example online to illustrate this point, at:

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