The Messham Definition

By Sean William Messham


Ok, admittedly I have been listening to too much of the new Snow Patrol album A Hundred Million Suns and, as a result, I have been thinking in unusual and unchartered territory. That is, for me, the future and what my life may turn out to be. This got me thinking about a question. A question that we all ask ourselves, but rarely answer until we are experiencing the moment or have realised that it has passed and that life may never be as great as we all planned. The question I asked was: what is my worst fear?

Weirdly and a little scarily, and while listening to the Snow Patrol album, I came up with my answer. It’s not a process like dying, although I cannot imagine that to be too pleasant of an experience. It is a lot more profound and a situation that can come and pass you by without you knowing.

I am a photographer and my idea of a great life is waiting six months in the mountain ranges, somewhere in Central Asia, in the blistering cold, just for the chance to photograph a snow leopard or capture the most evil and beautiful aspects of the human spirit. I know this is not for everyone, but you get my point. We all have ambitions that we want to live up to and people we want to become. Mine is to experience the world and capture it with my lens in a way that reminds people what we must live and fight for. I’m sure you have yours, or at least an idea of what it may be.

Now, I am a person who is stupid, or maybe naïve enough to still believe in love, and before you turn the page in a protest to commit to your feelings, just stop and think about whether you do.

Now imagine… I know it might not hit home while reading this, but give it time and, one day, it might.

Imagine being in a position where you have to choose between your greatest ambition – being the person you have dreamt of being – or loving one person. I would not be able to comprehend making the choice between exploring the world or exploring one person and what they have to offer for the rest of my life. This is my worst fear. Being in that kind of a position, where I know that I cannot do both and I have to force myself to choose only one.

Obviously, I hope that I never experience this fear of mine, that I’ll be able to go to Central Asia and take photographs of snow leopards, or Uganda to see a Silver Back gorilla and, hopefully, with my partner by my side as my best friend. This, along with the comfort of not feeling lonely and knowing that I have not left a better life or person behind.

If you had to choose, could you? Are you too engrossed in your own commercial ambitions to notice that this moment has passed? Will you be aware enough to look for it or conduct your life so that it never happens to you? Can we simple and fragile human beings have the foresight to avoid this potentially wrenching experience?

I hope I never have to make this choice. I fear it. But perhaps the thing that truly scares me is that I know my decision. I would choose the girl.

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