Generator Ep. 023 – Focal Points – Saying the Quiet Part Out Loud

This is the first episode in a sub-series of Generator called "Focal Points" where Maine photographer Matt Stagliano speaks with Jonny Edward, a commercial and portrait photographer, as well a top-tier educator based in Denver, Colorado about a variety of topics. "Jonny and I always have long deep conversations when we get together and we decided to start recording more of them. In this first Focal Point, we wanted to say the quiet parts out loud, and talk about struggles as a creative and occasionally feeling lost or uninspired. This is just the two of us working out our emotions and perspectives in real time. Totally unscripted and without a defined end point. It was wonderful to just sit down and talk this through" There will be more topic explorations on future episodes of Focal Points so stay tuned for those! For more on Jonny Edward's photography and educational courses, please visit jonnyedward.com

Audio Version

Video Version

Full Transcript of Generator Ep. 019 - "Finding a Quiet Kind of Magic"

Matt Stagliano 0:00
I’m so glad you’re back with me, this is episode 23 of generator. In the first in a series of conversations I’m calling focal points. Now I’ve brought back my good friend, Johnny Edward to help me out with these. And I realized that there are some topics that we don’t really have the chance to explore during the course of a normal interview. So Johnny, and I talk about all sorts of things whenever we get together, and I thought he’d be the perfect co host for these types of conversations, we’re going to get a little bit deeper into the things that we don’t always talk about some of the fears and blocks and insecurity. So we’re gonna say the quiet parts out loud. But I love that because I, on a daily basis, don’t know if I’m feeling the same way as other creatives or how they deal with struggle or how they get through what it is that they’re dealing with in life. So it’s always illuminating to talk to Johnny, I think this is a great conversation, it certainly helped me gain some clarity in my own life, I hope it helps you as well. So sit back and relax, listen to this real raw, unscripted conversation that Johnny and I have. And expect more of these, because there’ll be plenty of conversations to come in the future. So here we go. With Johnny Edward, we’re going to say the quiet part out loud. Let’s get on with the show.

Jonny Edward 1:42
It’s nice to not have to feel like we have to pull this out to like a standard length too.

Matt Stagliano 1:46
And it’s not that’s the whole wonderful part of this is it’s just, you know, extra conversation talking about the stuff that I love to talk about talking about audio gear, talking about podcasting, talking about helping people decide on what to do or thinking about what it is that they want to create, and how can I pull from my experience and help them guide them in the right way? Yeah, right. All that feels really good. And it’s, it’s interesting how quickly you feel good, when, for so long. The past couple of months, I’ve been feeling so lost and kind of stuck. I know that there’s a lot of folks that have been in a similar position for the past, I don’t know. Some people will say since COVID, I don’t believe that I think we tend to magnify our own problems and search for that confirmation bias from other people that things are not good, so that we feel better about things not being good. And therefore, you know, Misery loves company. But it seems to be on that with the economy, with the political climate, with weather with whatever it is, folks seem to be in a lower point now than they have in a while. And I can’t speak for anybody else besides me. But I know that I’ve been really kinda lost with what’s next. For me. I feel like I’ve been in this place for Well, I’ve been in Maine now for 13 years been doing photography for 10 of that been doing portraits for five of that, that over the course of my life, I can almost chunk it out into five or seven year increments since since college, right, I was doing biotech or I was teaching or I was doing high tech, or I was doing photography, or whatever the career shift was where I was married, or I was in a relationship or not or so there always seems to be some major shift for me every five or seven years. And I’m kind of on that cusp right now. Of what’s next I’ve been doing photography now, like I said, 10 years podcasting and audio stuff I’ve been doing since the late 90s. But really, the resurgence has been about the past year and I’m back into really loving this. I don’t have any lack of faith in myself that whatever I choose to do, I’ll make work. However, I feel as as you and I were talking earlier, I feel like I’m just kind of drifting out on this ocean all alone, looking for direction looking for an island to link up with looking for someone else floating out there just to have someone else floating out there with me. I feel this, this crushing sense of loneliness. And I don’t mean that in like a partnership sense. But just I feel like I’m just doing it all alone. And I don’t have any metric by which I can measure my own success. Other than does it feel good to me, right? I don’t like to use. I don’t like to use money as my barometer, because I have some serious his financial emotions or emotions around finances. And I know that that’s not always the healthiest thing for me to just look at finances and say, Alright, you’re succeeding or not, because that has nothing to do with that, right? It’s that being in alignment, what feels good to you, what makes you passionate when you wake up in the morning, the thing that you can’t wait to do? Yeah. And I feel like I’ve kind of lost that purpose as of late. And so I look to the podcast, and I say, Man, I love doing this. I love teaching this, I love setting up this new space and setting up new lights and really trying to make it feel more professional than just sitting at home, in my office at home. I want to make something better. That gets me all charged up. But there’s this nagging fear that if I give up the photography, or I step away from the photography into that unknown of this new thing that is not monetized and is not there’s not replacing my photography, income, that there’s a lot of fear, there’s a lot of is this the right thing? Will this carry me through to retirement? Is it a fool’s errand? Did I get into late Should I wait for the next thing? Like what’s all of those thoughts? kind of jumbled through your head? And I’ve just been feeling this way. And I wanted to just kind of get it out. Are you seeing the same thing? Have you been in a similar place where you’ve known that it’s the right direction to go, but are hesitant to move in that direction? Because of all the unknowns?

Jonny Edward 6:35
Oh, absolutely. And I to be honest, I think anyone who who says no, is either lying outright or lying to themselves on a conscious or subconscious level. I think that’s just a necessary part of the emotional element of transitioning, of potentially pivoting of switching gears and changing directions. And that’s what I was gonna say, I didn’t want to interrupt you and what you were saying, like when you brought up the fear, I’m like, Well, I think fear, at least for me, has become an indicator. Like, it’s an indicator that I’m actually moving in the right direction. And, for me, if we’re looking at my growth is as a man, as a human being, as an artist, as an entrepreneur, whatever it might be, fear, lets me know that I’m stepping into new territory. And often that’s exactly where I need to be. Because when I start to experience that indifference, when I start to experience that ambivalence, that apathy, that’s what’s really dangerous for me, that’s dangerous. For me, psychologically, that’s dangerous for my business that’s dangerous for my art. So we’ve been in some of these conversations we’ve had recently, you know, you I love these chats that we have, and you sort of express this feeling of just like, almost blase. And so it’s not necessarily bad. And it’s not necessarily good. It’s almost nothing. It’s like, you know, when you eat like cream of wheat or something, and someone’s like, What does it taste like? And you’re like, it tastes like a substance, like, you can’t categorize what that is. And you’re like, I don’t dislike it, but I don’t like it. And like, for me, if I dislike something a lot, you know, going back to food, I’m probably fucking hungry right now while we’re chatting. But like, if I taste something, and I hate it, I’m like, Well, fuck this, I hate it. And then I make myself something different. And if I love it, I eat it, maybe I’ll make more of it. But if it’s just that middle ground, I’ll eat it, and I won’t really enjoy it, and I won’t feel full. But I’m also not hungry anymore. And so I sort of just coexist. I’m just like, in this this ether, this middle ground purgatory, if you will. And so I think when when I’m thinking about doing things, or hearing you talk, like your level of excitement about this other thing is a great indicator to me, but you expressing those fears, I’m like, good, those fears are coming up, because like, you’re fuckin excited. Because it means something to you. Because this is something that you might derive pleasure from, that you might derive fulfillment from. And of course, fear is a natural counterpoint to that out because if I go, Oh, you know, like, I might, I might really love this, there’s a chance that I won’t. If there’s if I if it might help me business wise, or I might make money, there’s a chance that I won’t. So in that positivity naturally exists, the counterpoint of the negativity, but that means that there’s positive there to be found. And so I think that’s, that’s a really good, a good thing. And it’s a catalyst. And it’s once again, we’re all constrained by fear and anxiety and things, but I’ve started to look at it myself and be like, alright, like, I’m starting to expand these workshops and travel and do them elsewhere. And for me, this is a really fearful fucking thing because like, I know, my space, I know this space and I know I can walk in here with COVID in both of my feet just got fucking cut off. And you know, three sheets to the wind, and I’m gonna provide an amazing experience. It’s back and side stuff. Right? So there’s this immense fear that like, oh, right, am I gonna be able to create the same experience in Houston and Angie studio or at Seattle and Simon studio or in Harlem, where I’ll be in May, working with neon light, if I don’t have all of these backdrops if I don’t have all of these lights, if I don’t have my network of models and colleagues and everything else, can I do it? And I’m afraid of that. And I know I can’t, I know you can put me in a closet and I will, but part of me doesn’t necessarily. It’s not that that part of me doesn’t know it, but that part of me that’s a piece of shit, you know, is just like, Oh, you’re gonna flop this up. You’re gonna fuck it up. You’re gonna get out there and you’re gonna go in Seattle and you’re gonna hit up and you’re gonna stumble and you’re gonna fall and when you don’t have this wonderful Setting you’ve curated when you don’t have all of these things at your disposal. You’re just a shell of nothingness. And that’s a shitty fucking voice. But we all have it. And so seeing it for what it is and going, Yeah, I’m a fucking afraid because this is meaningful because like, I’m so excited to travel, it’s bringing new passion into me, as an educator, as an artist, and I’m looking at our itineraries, and I’m looking forward to layover is I’m like, Fuck, yeah, I hope I get stuck in Atlanta, like, I’m going to drink some coffee and get into a chat with some fucking weirdo in the Atlanta airport, that’s going to be amazing. So you know, I’m really excited about it. But with that excitement, there is a great deal of fear, a great deal of anxiety, a great deal of trepidation. For something that’s unknown to me, because I’ve never done this before. So I’ve only ran a workshop outside of my studio with one other person, and that was Aaron J. Young, and LA, and that was years ago, but I’m looking at that I’m going alright, I’m gonna fucking embrace this fear. And I’m going to do it in spite of the fear. And I’m going to do everything I can to take that fear, which is ultimately baser energy. And I’m going to redirect it into doing this. And if I fail, and I fuck it up, and it falls apart, good at least, like I’ll be getting crumbled on by walls and a roof, that means something to me. Instead of then continuing to just cascade along in the state of like, unsubstantial illness or insubstantiality. Or I don’t know what the fucking correct phrase is, but just, I want to taste the midship ice cream. I don’t want any more fucking vanilla, I’m over it.

Matt Stagliano 11:20
It’s interesting when you when you talk about that, because I feel a lot of the same things right in terms of building the podcast or go in a different direction. I think for me, the fear is less about the thing that I’m doing. I’m not afraid of a microphone. God knows I’m not afraid of words. Everybody’s heard me spout millions of them. It’s not the fear of doing the thing. I think it’s my own irrational timelines that I give myself unreasonable standards by which success should be measured. For example, I’m going to start doing this if by Episode 20, I don’t have these numbers isn’t even worth doing. Right? No matter how much I love it, I give myself such short timeframes in which to succeed that it takes the fun out of it for me, because for me, time is finite. I only have so many years of even remote relevancy left, and I don’t want to hear all the well, you know, Colonel Sanders didn’t start till he was 67 or one. Great Good freight. Colonel Sanders. I’m not making chicken. I’m a I’m a middle aged guy with a camera. I have a certain shelf life, right? And I know this. So how do I maximize what I’m doing with the knowledge that I have? stay aligned in purpose and motivation? And do what I love with that unshakable faith? That the thing is going to work? Yeah, at what point? Does it become a quixotic tale? Where do I become this diluted guy with a fantasy that I’m going to make this microphone support me? Yeah, at what point? You’re like, Hey, man, just should wake up just a little bit, come on back to Earth just a little bit. I feel like I get trapped between those worlds between being excited about the new thing and building it. And Alright, you’ve given it enough time, it’s not working, move on to something else. Yeah, I have a hard time letting go of that. So I say all that to say this, I would love for podcasting to be the thing for me from now till whenever, yeah, the I’m having a hard time letting go of the photography enough to give of myself wholly to the new thing. So when you’re talking about your workshops, and you know, the fear that that goes into that it’s not that you don’t have the knowledge to teach, where does the apprehension come from? Is it? Is it the unknown? Is it a new network? Is it just, you know, something big that you’ve you’ve romanticized in your mind? And you’re afraid that it’s going to be different? Where does that? Where does that fear come from? Because I’m trying to diagnose where my own fear comes from with all of this stuff. So I think for me, it’s probably pretty multifactorial. And you know, I’ll give myself the vague answer, like a politician. So I can think here, and I’ll just fill it with words, words, words.

Jonny Edward 14:19
But I think it comes from a lot of things. I mean, yeah, there’s absolutely this aspect of like, I don’t know, these people. In some cases, I don’t know the studios, I don’t know the energy, you know, so I feel like I, there’s much more variability. And obviously, I know what I can do in any situation, I know what I can control. But I also know that there’s so many things out of my control. And so when I’m in this studio, when I’m in this space, when I’m in Denver, I know if shit hits the fan, I have plans, B C, D, E, F, like, if none of my models show up, none of those six models on day one, I can call in favors from fucking six people and have them here in five minutes. I don’t have that same, that same sort of sway, I guess is the best way of saying it in another market, or at least in some of these markets. And so there’s that fear it’s me being a disastrous and a worst case scenario is where I’m like, well walk in, you know, if it falls in here, I’m like, I could literally call to strapping young men to carry me around like Beyonce, you know, and I could Stephen Hawking my way through things rip if I needed to. And that would be fucking fine that I don’t have that. I think there is I also exist in sort of that dualistic state between sort of like romanticism and existentialism. So I it’s like, in my mind, I’m like, either this is going to be the fucking greatest thing ever. And I’m going to be eroded. And they’re gonna, you know, San Francisco is gonna have Johnny creative day after this, because I’m going to impact the creative community so bad, or I’m going to fucking bomb and people are gonna drag me into the town square like Frankenstein’s fucking monster, and pitchfork me into Swiss cheese. And that’s going to really be shitty, and be hard on my ego. And so it’s once again, it’s the duality like I’m afraid of failing, of course, because I hold myself to such high standards. But then the part of me that I’m still working on diminishing, and mediating, that doesn’t feel deserving or worthy is stressed about the success, because I’m like, what happens when I go here, and I have a great thing, and that it’s amazing, and I cannot internalize that positivity, I cannot accept it. So I toe this line between being afraid of failing and being afraid of succeeding, I toe this line between this becoming something wonderous. And this being the dissolution of all of this for me. And that’s a really strange purgatory to coexist in, because it’s six for half a dozen, and I can talk myself in and out of it, and there is no right or wrong. And so instead of trying to sort that, instead of trying to analyze it, which is my go to, I’m just allowing myself to sort of exist in this ether to say, you know, it’s gonna fucking be what it is. And I will know that until I do it, and like, I’m really good at thinking on my feet, I’m really good at pivoting. If nothing else, I’m a survivalist. And so whatever comes from this, I will navigate through but I can’t predict, and I can’t define, and I can’t expect, it just has to be whatever it is. And that’s really fucking challenging for me to let go of. But going back to it, I don’t think it’s any one source. And I think that’s the hardest thing for me, and probably a lot of other creatives yourself included, is it can’t be sort of defined to one variable, there are so many different elements. And as soon as you sort of adjust this, it’s going back down, I’m gonna say algebra, and everyone’s going to add on, but like, you know, you change one variable, and it alters other things, right? You know, like when you’re playing some games, and it’s like, you do this, and then it has this reaction, it’s chaos theory, Jurassic Park style, you know, I sneeze, and it causes a butterfly to fly into the face of a fucking giraffe. And that giraffe stops Mother Teresa. And somehow I’m responsible for the death of the saint and it’s a big fucking thing. So every time I sneeze, I feel guilty. I’m just trying to embrace the chaos more and I’m naturally a fairly chaotic person, and try not to control things. And try not to say like, if I feel this way, it means this, right? Like, if I’m scared, it means good or bad. No, it means both. Like all of this exists, like we’re essentially quantum computers. So logically, it’s nice to think about things as either being zero or one, I’m either this or I am that but I’m never just a zero or a one. I’m always both simultaneously in varying proportions. So is vague and sort of meta as that sounds, I’m trying to give myself the space and the compassion and the grace to just exist. And these almost oppositional states at one time and say, like, that’s okay. I can breathe and be in this and it’s never going to be one thing circumstances are never going to be ideal. It’s never going to be exactly what I want or need it to be. And that’s fuckin Okay. And just let some of that tension roll off of me a little because we can only carry so much. And most of us are already carrying too fucking much to begin with. So

Matt Stagliano 18:36
I’ve been watching a lot of how the universe works on on max on the the max app, and I’m a big, you know, physics guy, right? Love this. And I feel like I am this black hole at the center of a galaxy. And I’ve got this accretion disk of gases all around me of just all this doc in my head, and I just keep attracting more and more stuff. There comes a time in the life of a black hole where that accretion disk spin so fast, it finally gives off energy. I feel like I’m I’m building all this mass and I’m bringing all this stuff in and it’s going to explode into this energetic output at some point. I just don’t have a good understanding of when or where that’s going to be. It doesn’t frighten me. It causes a level of anxiety even though anxiety is not the right word apprehension, perhaps, I don’t know what’s on the other side. And I can’t see what success looks like. And I can’t see where this is going. And I’ve always had a really good radar about where my own life is going and what now next thing is, and I feel like I can’t grasp that right now. So in going through all myself value work and therapy and journaling and writing all this left down. For me, what does success look like for me? What will it mean to have accomplished this? What does it mean for me to get to the end of this task? And I’m feeling I’d say over the past year, I cannot seem to answer that question in any regard. Where do I want to go with my photography? Well, I like doing this. I kind of like doing that. But it’s not really any different. Do I really have a voice there? Well, I really like podcasting. I’ve got kind of a voice there. And I love doing that it feels really good in alignment. But I can’t really see in this sea of podcasting, how do I succeed? How do I create, you know, the life that I will lead out of this? Well, maybe this is just the stepping stone to something else. These are the inner dialogues that happen all the time, right? It’s always an if then statement, it’s always an and or it’s always two things competing for the same space. Yeah, that is where I feel most paralyzed, is being stuck in this space where I don’t know which road to go down. I don’t know what path to take. And that’s where I’m, I’m really stuck. Because what I what I’m focused, and I say, alright, well, podcasts are going to be the thing. All right. Stop thinking about photography, something about video, or consulting, or teaching or bracelets or anything. Just do this one thing. Yep. I have a really hard time doing the one thing and giving up everything else. I like to diversify. I like to have safety nets, I like to have options. So it’s just it’s been a really interesting time as I navigate this as I navigate the emotions of it feeling, you know, up and down financially, feeling up and down. motivationally I don’t really have any answers. And I don’t even know if there’s a there’s a point at the end of this, soliloquy, but I’m just feeling like on that precipice. I’m on the edge. One more day, one more week, one more good networking opportunity, and things will really shift. At what point again, does that become the Don Quixote? Yeah, like just one

Jonny Edward 22:12
more windmill, man. And I mean, I think the hard part about that, too, it’s funny, I went to therapy for so many years. And it’s like, and therapists, ultimately, are the most fucked up people on earth, no offense therapists out there, but like, normally, you caretake because you can’t take care of yourselves. And then it’s easy to point fingers and suggest this and that. I think that you and I have had a similar experience, at least based on what we’ve shared over this past year, both of us had sort of removed ourselves from certain communities that were providing a certain degree of pseudo sustenance and validation, right. So it’s like when when you’re defining these variables of what it means to be successful, I think that’s one of the dangers of communities and cliques that conform because then overtly the community is informing you that you are successful, even if you don’t feel it yourself. But it’s nice to have that arbitrary value, because part of you can lean into that and feel some semblance of comfort and ease in it. So as we grow as individuals, normally we outgrow relationships, we outgrow friendships, some of them lasts, some of them don’t we molt. And oftentimes, when we molt, we find ourselves detached from these things necessarily, that we’re holding on to us, because we shed that outer layer of skin, we also shed the connections that that outer layer of skin held. And then we find ourselves in a point of isolation to some extent, necessarily, and that doesn’t mean anyone’s done anything wrong, or we have or we fucked up. It’s just another state of our evolution, another iteration of self that is no longer bound to these things that it was once bound to. And so there is freedom and liberation in that but there’s also fucking fear and uncertainty, because now we’re just spinning freely in that vast black weight of fucking space. untethered, not accelerating, but not slowing down moving in one fucking direction until we did something else. And that’s unnerving. And I think like having to self validate as individuals, that’s the only way we find real happiness and fulfillment as people and as artists, but that is a fucking highly complex, ever changing, dynamic moving target. And so one day you feel like you’re nailing it, and the next day you don’t and then you’re like, do I need to sacrifice more? Do I need to sacrifice less? Am I putting too much effort into this thing? Am I not putting enough and do I need to reallocate? Or do I need to knuckle down and go full bore? And there’s always all of these fucking questions and then whether we like it or not, money does have to come into it. It would be nice if we could all just sit here and go like, Oh, I’m just gonna chase my passions and things are going to work out. That’s not the fucking case at all.

Matt Stagliano 24:36
You mentioned something curious in there about the communities. It spurred something in my brain right. So as my relationship with social media is as toxic as it is, it causes negative physical reaction for me, my heart rate increases, my stomach acid increases I get anxious This. So I’ve pulled off of social media quite a bit, regardless of however much an algorithm was serving me up before, if I’m not giving it anything, it ain’t serving me up anywhere, right? Yeah, very much. So as I, I removed myself from social media, bit by bit, there is tangential to that removal from these communities that I was really active in before, because I’m removing myself from that. Because most of my really, really good friends are scattered nationwide. They don’t live where I live. Yeah, there’s a significant part of me that is feeling isolation and loneliness, because of the disconnection from my tribe, from my groups from my communities. And it’s not the same as we’ll just pop back in that group and make a post and connect with people. That’s not connection to me, it is great for answering questions. It to me is not necessarily connection. And I do not have the personality where I feel like I need to constantly be commenting on people’s stuff in order to validate our relationship. Yeah, the isolation and the loneliness as compounded, I think because I find that my energy ticks up, when I’m talking to people like this, when I’m around creative folks, whether we’re talking big dreams and goals or small challenges and problems that we might be having. There’s so much that I draw from that the withdrawal from social media has certainly heightened isolation given where I live, right, very remote, any little tweak to that anything. Anytime you remove human interaction, it’s magnified in a place like this, that has also contributed to this feeling of disconnection of not being as fulfilled as I was previously. With that comes the questions. All right, well, Matt, you can just sit here and bitch and moan about things, or right and everybody that you talked to him become that guy that’s just kind of like, oh, man, it’s Colin, great advice to talk about negative shit for the next 45 minutes. This is awesome. I can go that direction. Or I can try to find different ways to connect with folks in a way that feels good to me. And I’m struggling, I think because you get so much of that when you are shooting a portrait of someone you are connecting so deeply, you are getting that interaction at mental physical levels that you just don’t get virtually. Yeah, that I’m I think there’s also apprehension in me that if I shift too far into the virtual like this, that I won’t be getting that same thing that I need. Yeah, you know, this feeling of being lost this feeling of isolation. While it’s not new? Well, it’s not unique to me, my variables are such that I don’t know how to necessarily change things. Yeah. And it’s not being positive, think more self value more. It’s not that I’m wondering how I make the significant shifts that I need to make in my life, and feel good about it at the same time, and be able to financially support it in lean times like this. Yeah. I don’t know. There’s just there’s a lot there that I’m trying to process and work through. Yeah. And I don’t have any answers. And I don’t have it figured out. And this isn’t some cry for help where I’m like, God, figure this out. For me. There’s no one that can figure it out. Except for me. Of course, there’s just a lot of questions now that I haven’t really had to face in the past because the answers have always been there. And right now, it just feels very unanswerable.

Jonny Edward 28:48
I think one of the issues is for a lot of us and myself included, is there. Once again, there’s all these converging variables at once. There is how do I connect there is how do I sustain there is how do I fulfill there is how do I exist? And then the problem is when we have all of these answers or questions rather, we’re trying to answer at once we tend to try and answer those questions in mass with singular actions. Yeah. And so it’s, you know, well, is the podcasting thing like, Oh, it’s good for my soul. But is it also good for the pocket book, and then I know for me, I weaponize fear against myself to prevent myself from doing things that I know I will enjoy or love. So I go, Well, you know, I really want to do this thing. I want to do the route 66 thing and rent a car and travel around. But you know, what, if while I’m doing that, I fall out of favor with the community and no one wants to come to my workshops and everything else, or I take something that has meaning that’s substantial to me. And then I leveraged these other elements or variables in my life to negate that or to tell myself that in doing that I’m necessarily sacrificing something else. And so I caused myself to sacrifice the very thing that’s most important to me, under the guise of not wanting to sacrifice something else. And that’s part of the darkness, that dark passenger in my mind that wants to see me fucking unhappy that wants to see me imploding that wants to see me self destructive, that wants to see me as a black hole instead of a big, bright shining star. And so I implode upon myself and bury those dreams under these things that may not be false, but that I’m magnifying exponentially, to create a context that precludes me from moving in that direction. And that’s something that I’ve had to address a lot. And like, just as you were saying that and once again, I am by no means a therapist, so everyone out there do not follow my fucking advice whatsoever, probably will lead you to dead ends that you may never escape. You know, I heard you, you know, talk about sort of leading into the podcast, and there was there was almost this talk of like sacrifice. Like, if I give myself enough to the podcast, what am I like, I’m gonna be missing out on photography, what does that mean for money? What does that mean for connection? And like, my question to you and it’s purely rhetorical thing to meditate on would be like to step into this podcasting thing? Do you really have to genuinely sacrifice that much of your photography? Like, if we break your time down in any given day, like, for what you need to give to podcasting to feel good about it? Would it be so substantial that you then would not be able to invest enough into something else? Or is it an energetic thing to say, like, I do not have the energy to give myself to both of these endeavors. And I only ask that because I know for me, I’ve avoided consciously or subconsciously doing a lot of things because my context, my narrative was that, well, if I do this, I can’t do that. And I’ve operated in the states of absolutism, where if I’m doing this one thing, I can’t do the other. And then when I’ve actually allowed myself to endeavor into both of those things, I went, wow, like, not only can I do both of these, but in doing both of these, it’s freed up my mind that I feel more fulfilled. And I actually in a very paradoxical way of have more time and have more energy, not less, because I’m actually feeding myself because I’m not running on empty. It is relatively

Matt Stagliano 31:56
binary in my mind. I can do one thing with my whole class, or I can half assed a whole lot of things. Yeah. Right. And it feels like I’m half assing everything right now. Yeah, that’s not to say that what I’m doing is producing poor work. I just don’t feel like I’m all in on anything, then I think back to like, Alright, when was the last time I was firing on all cylinders, and everything was going really great. I was great physically, spiritually, mentally, financially, like everything was just hitting. And where was I? What was I doing? What was I eating? Who was I hanging around with? What were my goals? How many things was I working on? Yada, yada, yada, right. And I was thinking about that. And it’s, it’s probably been a year or two, since I really felt that everything was just rocking and rolling. And it feels foreign to me to be back there. Now. I’m like, Well, I know I can get there. It’s like, I’ve proven to my body in my mind, like, yeah, like this can happen. You can have all this success and joy and comfort. It feels foreign to me right now that I’ll see that again. Yeah, there are certainly some mental walls, I’ll need to climb, or at least look at in a different light to get past them. It feels almost unattainable at this point, given what I have to get back there. I also agree with you, when I was in that place where everything was working, I was doing multiple things really well, because that momentum does build because opportunities present themselves because your vibration is higher, your frequency is better. You’re around people with better energy, you attract all of that. I believe in all of that. There’s that shift back to that mentality back to that, that place in your heart where you know that that feels good. And that’s where you’re supposed to be. And you can be there by just changing some of the thought patterns that you have. I can’t seem to get past that point. I haven’t turned those thoughts of my success into belief of my success. Yeah. While I have faith in myself, I still don’t feel like I have that unshakable belief that this is going to work alongside photography. Yeah, right. I haven’t made that mental connection that I can do both at a high level and have everything be fine. I don’t know if that’s because I feel like I’m doing it all by myself and don’t have any help to offload, which could very well be the thing. Yeah, right. That if I’m able to offload or share the burden a little bit, I could produce way more. It’s easy for me to see this in other people. It’s very difficult to look inwards at myself and be the consultant to my own life. Like, oh, yeah, look it on paper. You should do this. felt

Jonny Edward 35:00
much more challenging to deconstruct. And I guess like my going back to the rhetorical questions, my question for you is like that not having that belief that the two of those things can coexist? Or that maybe you can give enough to both of those things simultaneously. Do you feel like you moving forward in both of those realms is predicated on actually having that belief? Is that an expectation that that belief needs to be present in order for you to move forward? Is it a nicety? Or is it a necessity?

Matt Stagliano 35:25
It’s definitely the nicety, right, I think kind of begets the other, right. God knows I’ve worked towards things without the knowledge or the belief that it’s going to work out. But you’re like, isn’t the kind of the path that I’m supposed to be going in? So let me try this. And then it works out, right always does. It’s helpful to even hear myself say that, because No, I don’t need to have that firm belief in myself, before I start anything. It’s more like a low level buzz that I’m always going to make it I’ve made it through all my bad days, I’ve seeded through some shit that I never thought I’d succeed through. So that has created a pattern in me that I know, I’ll be able to create again and again and again and rebuild again and again. And again. It’s a slightly different take on that now where, yes, I know, either one of them can be successful, they can be successful, side by side. I just can’t see the path right now for how that happens. Yeah, and they’re the big thing, focus on the what not the how you totally get that I totally get that. I know that if I just keep plugging away at this small compound interest, incremental gains will happen. And suddenly, I’ll turn back and I’ll be like, Wow, I just put out 500 episodes, I had no idea right now. I know that will happen. It’s just very difficult to see right now. Yeah. And I’m struggling with that lack of clarity, as someone that has always been able to react and see things, see the problem, see the solution, go through all the permutations, walk the multiverse, whatever you want to call it, it’s been very easy for me to crystally see some of the future like that. And I’m struggling with my own my own situation right now. And being able to have that same type of clarity. This is the first time I’m really bumping into it. So I don’t know if I just need a glass of water.

Jonny Edward 37:22
And I mean, I commend to you on on on delving into this and like, actually, you know, everyone, Matt and I were having a conversation before this off the record. And, you know, we certainly both sort of bring up some of these things. And we were like, hey, maybe we should actually record this and, and be vulnerable and talk about this. And so I really do commend you and myself for being like, alright, this is how shit to talk about because obviously, Matt and I are both good with words. We had this our brains brain and our words, words. And we could talk about fucking yarn in a way that might be fairly compelling for an hour while not saying much about yarn, but talking about it. So delving deeper into this stuff is is sort of new territory in its own but yeah, I mean, like, maybe I guess the thing that I’m trying to in once a guy it’s it’s always curious, and he’s conversation because I never want to project which we always do anyway, regardless of whether we fucking want to or not, but, you know, maybe maybe there is no clarity right now. And that’s not a cop out. I’ve had to say that to myself. I’m like, maybe right now I got dropped off in the middle of this fucking forest. And in each one of the major directions north south, east west, there’s a major road that’s exactly 500 miles away. Right? And and maybe there is no right fucking answer. Maybe there is no clear cut path. Maybe it’s simply just moving in one of those directions. And I don’t have a fucking map. So there’s probably going to be a river this way I have to forage. But there’s some really pissed off bears and mating season this way. And a group of fucking cannibals the other way. So I’m up shit creek, no matter what. And I can’t get out of this situation faster in any way. That seems like it. It’s just an illusion. And I’m going to be dealt different obstacles and curveballs, and I’m going to have to come with but I’m the same way. Like, I want to be able to assert, for me at least some semblance of control, to be able to assess the landscape and say, Hey, I’m not saying I need this to be easy, but I want to fucking know what I’m up against. And I want to know that if I take 10,000 steps, that way, I’m going to be in a place and this past six months has challenged me to let go of that because I have been in the middle of that forest and there hasn’t been a payout. And I’ve had to just say, All right, well, this isn’t tenable right now, like I’m in a place right now where I’m cold and I’m not dressed well, I’m hungry and I don’t have food. So if I wait for that fucking clarity, I am going to metaphorically die here. And I just have to fucking move and that’s hard when you’re hungry and you’re cold to move. But I’ve almost made it survival like in my mind, even though it wasn’t it’s a very first world way to look at these things that we’re dealing with right now. Like, Oh, should I do a workshop in San Francisco or not? God this is hard, while the rest of the world is fucking burning down into ash. But I given the gravity of that to myself to free myself up to go fuck like maybe there are no answers and there is no path right now and that is this season of life. This is my winter where no matter how much I water or attend or nurture or sun, nothing can grow. And these climactic conditions and taking that pressure off of myself so that I can just exist in that state of sort of permafrost for a moment, as is without needing to do something that is quite literally an impossibility at that very point in time.

Matt Stagliano 40:22
I’ve been operating for damn near 50 years. The first couple of years, I kind of took it easy. First couple of years of life, I was a big kind of leech. But the last 48 or so I’ve basically been on my own and have always been redlining, right, always just 100 hour weeks or more or produce, produce produce. And maybe what I’m feeling right now is normal pace of life, right for a human being. And it’s uncomfortable. For me, maybe this is just the universe’s way of saying, This is how you’re supposed to be able to find time to take care of yourself and have some downtime. And just appreciate the things that you have put together and the things that you have created. And just let them be what they are, rather than sitting in judgment of the things that you’ve done. Just let them exist for the fact that you created them, and that you brought them to fruition. And that is good enough. I don’t often look at things that way. I try to write I believe in that. But it’s hard for me in the moment to practice what I preach sometimes for so I just I look at this. And I say, Well, maybe this is just my way of everything rebelling against me saying you know what, you’ve done this for way too long. Slow down just a little bit. It’s okay not to have the answers. It’s okay not to have the solutions to this problem. Just keep doing the things that make you feel centered, and aligned and feel like they’re true to you. I want to help people. I don’t sit here and talk about the shit in my life. Because I want people to give me some level of affirmation like, Oh, yes, yes, you have problems. And I’m no mad You’re so I don’t want any of that. This is me going. If I feel this way, maybe someone else out there feels this way and can give me some insight as to what it is that I’m going through. Right. I certainly don’t have all the answers. Yeah. I don’t know how to slow down very well. And so perhaps again, this is all just foreign to me. And I’m wondering, because you’re made up very similarly to me, of if we’re not growing extra arms to do all the things then we’re not evolving fast enough. How do you or how have you in the past? If Now’s not the time, how have you in the past dealt with just trying to step back and realize that you know what, you’re doing more than most mortals that you can step back and things are still going to be okay.

Jonny Edward 43:09
I have I have dealt with it very fucking poorly. Admittedly, um, you know, it’s interesting. Like, I think I think that’s great, like hearing that triggered some things in the in a positive way, like, triggered isn’t necessarily a bad word, everyone, right, bucket pop verbiage. But it’s sort of unearthed a few things. I mean, I was thinking about that, like, as we as we’ve been talking, and you bringing that up, you know, I sort of look at these seasons, or phases of life, almost like drapes, you know, and if you go into like Jungian therapy, and things like that, like dreams are these unresolved things that exist within our subconscious. And so you know, you’re always dreaming of falling and you figure out, it’s because you’re worried about getting fired at work, and you’re gonna have the grounding, and then you come to that epiphany. And suddenly, you’re, you know, dreaming about fucking eating cake in Cancun, instead of falling off a cliff and shattering into a million little bits. And that’s an eye shift. But I mean, you know, maybe that is the lesson in life for you right now. And maybe it’s not, but maybe it is and that’s why things can’t move forward until you can accept that and lead into that. And I think about that very frequently for myself. And it’s funny that you brought this up because you know, that I had this conversation everyone who’s seen me in person knows I’m heavily tattooed and this will come around but I didn’t have my right arm tattooed and it was it’s been a point of contention for me for a fucking decade because I’ve had this tattoo on my arm that I didn’t like and I wanted to get it covered. And I was come around but anyway, a couple of days ago I was in the tattoo shop I don’t know if there will be a visual element but if so everyone I’m feeling very G and mighty giant saber tooth tiger for my kid who passed away last year rest in peace Roxy but all she’s in Valhalla now waiting for me in the fucking meat all going back to the socialization I was gonna bring this up earlier I realized our aunt is not necessarily antisocial but unsocial I bet. So it’s not like I’ve been opposed to socialization. I just haven’t been engaged in it. And in the tattoo shop, I was getting tattooed, and it’s kind of a communal open space and I was getting tattooed by Aries, who’s done all my work and it’s his studio, and I helped open the studio. It was the first time I’ve been tattooed in overhead. For decades, which was fucking surreal for me to begin with, and so there was this like stepping back into time. So it felt like nothing really changed even though everything is fucking changed. But there were a couple of other people in there. And it was cool because there was another tattoo artist and another tattoo artist and clients. And obviously, we’re going through the painful spots. And so there’s some silence, but we’re all talking and we’re talking shit, and we’re bullshitting. And I felt so alive, and I’m back to my normal 12 year old self, and I’m telling fucking obscene jokes and waiting for someone to fucking cancel me. And you know, who’s gonna be recording me as I’m saying this awful shit. And we’re all just laughing and being authentic. And it was this really beautiful experience of community. And we’re all there, and we’re in pain, but we’re also in so much joy. And so there was this duality that existed in the moment. And where I’m going more to the point with this is I met this really cool guy, and we exchanged numbers, his name’s Peter, really fascinating individual, he’s getting a blast over on his foot and knee. So he was going through it, but he’s part of a men’s group. And we were just sort of talking about something similar to this. And so his challenge in the men’s group was, which is insane to me, but they it was to sit for 48 hours on his couch doing nothing. Now he could go up because obviously don’t want to shit yourself. You could get up to use the bathroom and make food and whatever tend to basic human needs. But like you had to sit on the couch, you can’t be on a screen. You can’t be watching TV, you can’t be meditating, you can’t be doing breath work, so you can’t be actively engaged in anything. And he was like, Man, he’s like, I thought this was gonna be wonderful because he’s like, Aussie. So type A, and he has all these businesses. He’s like, two minutes in, I had a full blown fucking panic attack. So two minutes into sitting on that out, he became an fucking wound and lost his mind. And he’s like, I realized that, you know, paraphrasing him, he’s like, I realized that I am always in motion. Even when I’m still I’m in motion. And I identified with that, so fucking strong leg. And it’s a problem. It’s a problem a lot of us have. And it’s a problem that I don’t know how to directly address it. But it is a major fucking obstacle to us being happy and more than happy to us finding peace. Happiness is transient peace can be a constant. And that’s something that’s always evaded me and I was like, fuck, like, my plan was the day after getting tattooed, which was yesterday. I’m like, I’m not doing shit. I’m going to be in fucking pain. I’m going to be grumpy. I’m going to be using plasma and flesh and blood, like people will understand. And instead I sent out 70 Fucking emails. I set up the entire roster for my workshop, I confirmed I came into the studio, I moved things like an asshole. I did five pull ups and it felt like I was ripping my fucking arm off. And then I said, I’m, I’m drinking more Tasneem and I’m down here and I looked like a fucking like, gorilla. You know, I’m just like, going around and my lats are flared up, just look to things and move things that it called, was spinning in my arms and chain. And so like, I’m fucking just dragging it along the I mean, I was like, What the fuck? Are you doing, Jonathan? I’m like, What’s up? I actually use my full name. That’s just in shampoo. I was, like, are you doing Jonathan, I’m like, you were supposed to fucking relax. And you are just in this hyper fixated state of action. And so I don’t know, I guess like, I’ve willed myself. And Matt and I discussed this too. I’ve been I did drive December, essentially, which was eliminating weed and booze and caffeine, which constituted 80% of my cellular fucking mass. Got rid of all of that. And so before it would be cool, I’m like, Yeah, I’ll sit and watch the clouds go by while I’m having a joint or I have a beer, a glass of whiskey, because that anesthetized me, it slowed down the chaos of my brain. And that was a way that I relaxed. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. But I decided I didn’t want to have that in my body and wanted to go without and so now I’m sitting here substance free thinking about stillness, and it’s giving me fucking anxiety. So I think for some of us, we exist in this perpetual state of motion. And especially for those of us like, like Matt and myself, like you and me, Matt, who have had blocked up childhoods, and we’ve always been caretakers and we’ve always been taking care of ourselves and others and in always doing this and there was always consequences in my life for Ross, like if I sat on my fucking laurels, I was missing out on something or I wasn’t going to eat or I wasn’t going to sleep. And so there’s this constant bit in the back of my mind where it’s the shark thing I’m like, if I sleep, I will fucking die. I will float to the bottom of the ocean and sand crabs and whatever Krakens exist down there will feast on my fucking flesh like that will be the thing and so I don’t know I’ve tried to integrate that into smaller bits and even in the mornings now, like I said, Fuck you meditating for a while we have a contentious relationship. And so I’ll just try and sit there before I put the music on before I pick up my phone before I make the French press or the tea before I start messaging before I start, and I fucking sit there and look out my window I have this beautiful view of the mountains out my window and I’m like, just sit and look and if if I let myself do it the first two minutes I literally feel like I’m going to off myself. I’m like, God says Walker just jumped out the window. I’m like, just jump through that fucking with swan dive out the fucking window man nature. It’s school buses going by when you do it, make it fucking theatrical. And then I sit there and then all of a sudden, 10 minutes has passed by, and I’m like, What the fuck just happened. And I was there. And so I’m trying. I’m working into it incrementally while still trying to love myself. And that’s the hardest thing about this is like, I don’t want quiet time for me to be a punishment. I don’t want to have to put myself in a corner in Opus Dei, fucking whip myself with laugh is and go like, you need to be quiet you loud motherfucker. I’m like, I want to be quiet because it’s good for me. And I don’t want to force myself to have to do something that’s good for me. And that’s the weird place I’m existing in is I want to feel compelled to do something for me because I fucking love me not because I hate me. And I want to do something because it feels right now because it feels like I have to take my medicine. And that probably didn’t answer the question at all. But suffice it to say I’m struggling with something very similar in my own ways. And I don’t know, same thing, it’s just good to say that out loud. It’s good for me to acknowledge that and to say like, I’m not a fuckup. Because I don’t want to be quiet. It’s a fucked up part of me. And I want to get better at that. But like, I need to be able to look at that from a place of compassion and say like, this is something I need to work on. Because I want to be better not because I’m using it is a weird, twisted way to be masochistic and to force myself into something that’s uncomfortable. And for me that line is, is a one paper thin when it’s turned on its side I so quickly, air from one into the next first I

Matt Stagliano 51:29
need to acknowledge the fact that you worked Opus Dei into this conversation that you did that self flagellation, correctly, like good reference there, you’re not going to get anywhere else. The sharks symbolism. If I stop, I’ll die. If I don’t stay in motion, I’ll die is I think common to a lot of people I know it is for me that that need to stay in motion. That hit me hard. I just I started to realize, yeah, I think that’s, that’s a good analogy to how I feel I’ve been trying lately to at the end of the day, five or six o’clock, just stop, just stop working. You did enough for today, even though there might be something you could do in an hour afterwards, after dinner, maybe or just one more hour of emails or whatever the case is. I don’t I leave it to tomorrow. And it’s hard. It’s it’s, it’s physically stress inducing. To not to go do that. But I feel like I’m trying to break myself of these habits and that detox that that deprivation of the dopamine, there has been a real struggle. Because what I’m doing is actually giving myself a break, right. I played guitar for the first time the other night and a long time. I was not sober. But I was home alone. And I was like, I need to do something creative. And I haven’t picked up my guitar in a really long time i i had many many milligrams of THC in me and I was just like, I am going to play my acoustic guitar and I am going to sing and feel joy, and did it for probably two hours until I was almost horse didn’t realize that much time had gone by. But I realized how much I got out of it at the end. And it wasn’t so much that it was you know, some drug induced euphoria. It was I had finally done something that was just creative for creative sake, that made me feel good. That brought out a different talent in me, that just was happiness was just peace and it had nothing to do with work or time commitments or anyone else. It was just me annoying the dog five feet away from me, who begged and pleaded with her eyes for me to stop singing. Trying to get back into those habits is difficult. Because we’ve gone the pendulum has swung so far to the other side. We don’t know how to rest we don’t know how to relax. And so you know, just that detox period between going at Redline and I don’t want to just sit around and do nothing where’s that balance for? I’m not there. I haven’t mastered it yet. I’d love to say that I have and that I’ve got some Buddhist level you know contentment ritual every morning. I just I don’t have it. Everything is such Shades of Grey right there. You mentioned earlier there’s those zeros and ones it’s not binary. It’s not black or white. It’s all the shades of grey. And I’m okay with that. I think it just needs to be called out and acknowledged every now and again that you know what shit just isn’t perfect. No matter what you see online no matter what I say no matter what you say. You could ask me today Hey Matt, how are you? I’m I’m shit today. Asked me tomorrow I could be great tomorrow. It’s going to vacillate it’s going to go back and forth on at the moment. I think it’s okay to call it out as well and be honest with all of this. I don’t know anyone. I literally don’t know anyone right? Now, that’s in our profession. That’s just like, yeah, things rule. So I know, I’m not alone. And I don’t necessarily take comfort in everyone else’s misery. But there is a certain comfort in, let’s lower the expectations for yourself just a little bit, yeah, to something a bit more realistic knowing that there are forces beyond your control, that are also dictating some of these things. I can’t control the economy, I can adapt to it and operate within it, but I can’t control it. It’s okay to feel that pressure and not have a solution of how to change it for the better. But what can I control in my space to make me feel good to control my spiritual health, my mental health, my physical health, the health of my relationships, the health of my business? What can I do today, to help with that, trying to stay in that space, rather than getting caught up in the anxiety, waking up at 2am and a full blown panic attack? Not knowing, you know, I’ve only got three packs of ramen left, do I have the 79 cents to go buy another pack so that I can eat over the weekend? You know, I mean, there are some times you find yourself in those positions, I think we’re where I’m getting at going by my ass to get to my elbow, it’s not an uncommon thing. And sometimes I feel like I’m the only one that’s experiencing this. And I know that that’s not the case, it just feels good to kind of talk about the shades of grey to talk about this extra stuff. And at the end of it not have a solution not have a conclusion of anything other than just kicking around ideas, will love this.

Jonny Edward 56:40
I love it. And I do too. And I think you know, on that I’ll sort of like wrap up my own art and say that, I’ve always been a fixer. Like, that’s my archetype. I want to fix things. I want to fix things in the world. I want to fix things for friends, I want to fix things for myself. And so the big challenge that I’ve sort of issued to myself over the past few months is to say, Fuck, man, there’s so much you can’t fix, you need to just let things be. So when friends have reached out to me, instead of going to the automatic wall, like this is what you do. And here’s a bullet point. Let’s deconstruct this and make a plan. I’m like, Yeah, your situation really fucking sucks right now. And like, I love you, and I’m here for you. But sometimes these days just suck. And that’s okay. And doing that, for myself has been really big. And it made me think of one of my favorite poets Renier real key who has Letters to a Young Poet, which is a great exchange, if any of you have not read this book and read it. It’s an exchange between this poet and an aspiring poet in the 1800s. And him just giving life advice that is even more relevant now than it was then. And it’s beautifully written and it’s incredibly short. So even if you hate reading, and if you hate reading, I don’t even know how to address that. But get it on fucking audiobook if you need to read by Morgan Freeman are some shit. But but check that out. But he has a specific quote, renew your royalty that’s like Do not attempt to answer everything now, and I’m butchering this, but it’s essentially live into the questions, embrace and live into the questions and maybe one day the answers will avail themselves to you. And so that’s what I’m attempting to do right now is live in these questions, live in the state of uncertainty, live in some of the lack of direction, live in the discomfort live in all of these things and know that I can’t answer them right now and not expect that I ever will answer them but find some sense of place and peace in these questions in this uncertainty. And the other thing I wanted to say was, as you were talking about playing the guitar, Matt, Matt and I earlier had a little talk about conferences in the education sector. And that’s another talk for another day. So many of these conferences that Matt and I have attended. Like we’ve been working we’ve been helping we’ve been assisting in for me, every time I go I get wrapped into all of these different things. And I’m not I’m not complaining whatsoever. I’m grateful for these opportunities and to connect and to be able to work with these teams. But one of my favorite fucking far and away experiences if not my top experience at these conferences, and I met my heroes and all this shit was Matt and I have a mutual friend awesome artists awesome man. His name is Artemis. And Matt actually brought him up earlier because they just talked and connected but it was all of us sitting shit faced drunk outside of the bar at portrait masters in Phoenix playing the guitar and fucking singing Johnny Cash and was served. Yeah, and I that was my fault. Now I feel like I’m far enough away from this when I can say Phoenix grand resort if you’re listening. I am not Johnny Edward. I’m someone else but I was literally going into the bar and pouring from a drawl that was closed and just bringing out these lemon Shandy, Sam Adams lemon shanties. Fuck it in masks like Oktoberfest style. And all of us just kept drinking. And it was so free. I didn’t feel like I was a fucking artist. I wasn’t thinking about who I wanted to network with. I wasn’t thinking about what I was going to shoot. The next day. I wasn’t trying to monetize. I wasn’t trying to commoditize I wasn’t trying to strategize sound like fucking daunting for a second there. I wasn’t trying to do any of those things. I was just there. And I wasn’t there with fellow artists. I was just there with fucking friends, new friends and old friends and we just sat around to the point where we couldn’t even stand or see like fucking Blotto. And it’s beautiful and I think about sitting around that fire outside of this resort. And that was my first quartermasters ever, and I felt like I didn’t fucking belong. And I had all these self loathing, but all of it faded away. And it was also nice because at that point I wasn’t known. So people weren’t seeing me people weren’t walking by the flyer. And boy, Johnny, oh my god. And once again, I love you if you’ve done that to be fucking Thank you, because you are the wind beneath my wings, like literally, but I didn’t have that that persona. I had no obligation, I had no persona I was just fucking present. And this really beautiful place with these really beautiful people singing shittily and, and just being shittily. And it’s just this wonderful fucking thing. And so I’m buying for more of that now and vying for more of those moments where I just get lost in the presence and all of the peripheral shit just fades away. And I’m there with people that I love doing something that I love, whatever the fuck it is. Just 100% invested. And that’s, that’s my new version of success for the time being is that it’s not money, it’s not workshops, it’s not attendance. It’s not fucking platforms. It’s not fucking networking, it’s not names. It’s not fucking Vogue. It’s just fucking being and doing with people that I fucking love. And being wholehearted for a moment without all the noise and fucking bullshit. And that’s, that’s my current iteration of what I want and what I’m fighting for and striving for. And

Matt Stagliano 1:01:18
I love that. And it was such a perfect moment, because we’re so conditioned to go bigger and bigger and bigger at bigger conferences meet more people see more stuff grow, our businesses get bigger, bigger, bigger, and there was really nothing better than that evening, I think about it often about sitting around. And there are some parts that are certainly fuzzy, but I feel like you do that everything else just kind of fell away. And we were with the people we were supposed to be with, in the place where we’re supposed to be doing the thing we’re supposed to be doing. And there was nothing else. No one else mattered. It was a wonderfully pure moment of contentment and peace and happiness. And that’s the joy of that camaraderie is when you find that tribe and you’re able to do the things and nothing else matters. I know we could talk about this all night. Why don’t we have another conversation soon about something different? If

Jonny Edward 1:02:15
any of you out there listen to this before we get to the next episode, or even if we have and you want to hear us talk about something and put us out of our comfort zones. You know how to swaddled babies for maternity photography, only wrong answers. I’ll bring in a rock for that. And we’ll just we’ll get weird. So I will end on one anecdote from that night for my part at least. And obviously we were out till the wee hours of the morning when we were doing our Johnny Cash sing along. I ended up with Richard wood. Who’s a fucking awesome dude and an awesome artist and also deeply maniacal in his own right. And so we somehow we connected as I was walking back to my room completely disjointed I was like walking on to the fucking golf course. I was about to have like a Michael Douglas falling down moment. Like I was just like, I gotta go home. And I was just fucking walking in a direction. And I crossed paths with Richard wood and he’s like, hey, you know, you want to fucking smoke. He had these like, insane New Zealand cigarettes that are like seven feet long. And it’s that is a noodle, which I had never seen. And I was like, wow, this is like, daintily trying to smoke this fucking cigarette, completely and elegantly. And we went back to his room and we drank more in whiskey. And then we had production the next day, and it was a shit show. And I distinctly remember being in the back room where things were taking place for the portrait masters and everyone’s back there. The presenters de Vera was there that fucking year. Anyway, I was back there and I’m doing my thing. I had a shot of tequila to start off the day here on the dog. I’m getting it. There’s no pressure on me because I’m literally just the guy over there like, hey, clean up that mess and I’m like, okay, so zero responsibility, which was great. Richard, on the other hand, had many responsibilities. And he was sitting at a table with like his head in his book and hands like gray. You know, the man was ashen. And Sue Bryce walks into the back as she does fucking arithmetic. And there is some out wind behind her as she spotted walking, and people are fainting screaming Sue, like a scene out of the fucking Beatles music video, and it’s just this whole fucking grandiosity, and I’m just keeping my head down. You know, and she looks at Richard, and I won’t do her the disservice I’m trying to do her fucking accent. But she goes, Richard long night, and he just looks up with bloodshot eyes and goes, yeah, yeah. And she looks at him and she goes, Yeah, I bet you look like shit. Pull yourself the fuck together. I had just walked away. There was this vast silence in the fucking room. And I looked up at Richard and snickered and his head just went right back down. And that moment, I questioned my desire to be on the main stage because I was like, oh shit, yeah, there’s actually expectation and responsibility. It’s kind of nice being a background fucking player. But I just remember that so well, and just watching the spirit drain out of fucking Richard and knowing that I was absolutely complicit. In what just fucking happened? And feeling a little bit of shame, but a little bit of mischievous joy at the same time. And that was, that’s the conflict.

Matt Stagliano 1:05:11
You are not alone. You are not alone in that pain cave in yours. That was that bad. I never I don’t think you’ve ever told me that. Oh, sorry. That was really, really funny. I think we’ll do this again, we’ll solicit some opinions. And then at the very least, I’m going to see you out at WPI. So we’ll do some some debauchery there. All right, my friend. Thank you for this. And I’m looking forward to talking again. We’ll figure something out. Yeah, it was good to see you as always.

Jonny Edward 1:05:38
Absolutely. Likewise, and the music went back up, so we’re ending on that no later y’all

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