Watching the MMA fights and strongmen competition I photographed a few days ago it is clear how life imitates a fight. Just as in a fight you attack, you defend yourself, you land in a grip that seems unbreakable, you’re helpless and defenseless, you get up, you come back, you turn the table, get out of a deadlock and win or lose at the end. But there’s almost no fight without backing up to reorganize or see your oponent from a distance, no fight without abandoning an attack that proves ineffective or striking when you see a chance. There’s time for an offensive and a time to gather new strength or simply find a new strategy.
It’s not brainless punching around, there’s thinking involved. You adapt to what the oponent is doing. You assess your strategy, see if it’s working or not, and when you know it’s ineffective, you back up, change it and try again. If nothing works, well, sooner or later, you realize you can’t win. And that’s when you stop the offensive.
Everything happens for a reason, they say. Just like in the movies. No word or back story or setting or prop or situation is there for no reason. They play a role, they’re catalysts, game changers, accelerators, turns, twists and supplements. And they all shape the main story. Life in fact is totally the same. With one crucial exception. You can’t predict the end. You do control the main story to some degree. Mostly just points of it that are not neccessarily beats (the most important structural elements of a plot in a screenplay).
You control your decisions based on where you think they’ll take you, and that’s when you imagine the story ahead. Maybe it plays out like you imagined, maybe it doesn’t. In a sense we generate turns and twists, the smaller, but quite important elements of the plot, but beats usually happen independently. You don’t chose to win or lose and have it your way. You make a decision what to fight for, but life will hand you the outcome.
I’ve seen my life go through several beats and twists and turns, produce many side stories, been followed by influential back stories, and I hope they all made sense. That where I am right now is right where I need to be. And that the decision I have practically already made is the right turn. I don’t see the following pages of my screenplay, but I trust the screenwriter.
I think the impossibility of winning four Press Photo awards in one competition is mostly a good script element, a catalyst to emphasize the main theme of the story. Being shortlisted for Best Jobs Australia was another catalyst, generating an enormous support that was again a catalyst. Now, you could think that not getting into the finals for the job was a setback, but you’d only be partially right. The experience of the shortlist gave me the awareness of the support my work has, and how people see me (which is mostly better than I see myself of course), but doing everything in that scale and so good and not getting into the finals didn’t just beat me down. It gave me the contrast between seeing a future and believing in it again after a long time, and falling back into a state of mind where everything is just idle running, time going by, the clocks ticking in silence, life happening outside.
It sounds pretty gloomy, but I had a backup plan. I fight on, but I’m backing off from this offensive and this strategy. I see this setup isn’t working in any way. I am waiting for a chance now. Maybe it comes, maybe it doesn’t. But I now know what chips out and what doesn’t. Well, mostly what doesn’t. And a year or two ago, I’d still be on the offensive, with the same moves, same decisions … Not anymore. I’ve learned my lesson. Nothing works where I am right now. Geographically, politically, socially, economically. It’s time to take a step back and find a different way. Not an easy task when everything has been tested and proved ineffective.
Everything I did in these ten years has lead to here, where I realize I am doing things right, but I live in the most corrupt country in the world and have no chance of making a living with what I do. I’m not quitting, I’m just not on full power. I stepped back and I’m considering my options.
It feels completely pointless to go for new awards, attend new workshops etc. if I remain here in the corruption mekka of the world, the shithole no one ever glances at. And yes, I call it a shithole, but the truth is I love this country for it’s landscapes, its natural beauty, the size, and of course the MINORITY of good people living here. However, since we got our own country, we’ve proven that all we wanted was to steal like Belgrade stole from us under Yugoslavia. Every other person here will rob you of something.
You don’t get anywhere in this country if you don’t know how to steal. The country is overwhelmed with people stealing in a multitude of ways. Of course, because a normal businessman in Slovenia is not looking for ways to gain advantage over its competition, or improve to achieve perfection or quality. Their focus is on finding ways to screw over the workers, tax authority, subcontractors, everybody in the way of maximizing their own profit, so they can buy themselves a profanely expensive car and spend two months on a sail boat somewhere on the coral reef. Bribery is just another form of income, and they don’t compete with competition. They find a way to discredit and destroy it. Shit, if you suck, it’s normal you need to destroy others better than you. They don’t have the brainpower to come up to their level. They’re the lowest they get.
It is this kind of immoral, self-centered scum that’s overrun our country and made us number one in corruption. Can you imagine we’re on top, the very top of corruption scale IN THE WORLD!? Kenya is second! And our arrogant “bussinessmen” can’t get their heads out of their asses! The EU will make them. Everybody is ignoring the fact that European countries hate working with us (yes, because our company fail to do their job (correctly) and screw them over way too often), but they have to, because we’re on the Schengen border. This summer, Croatia is coming in, but our companies are still so arrogant that they don’t anticipate what will happen. If those countries don’t have to work with us anymore, and if they hate it anyway, do you really think they will, when we’re no longer on the Schengen border?!? And it just serves us right!
This country also destroys or ignores everything that stands out of the avarage. Negative selection is the norm. We’ve seen designers being denied work in Slovenia and becoming one of the most desired designers in the automobile industry in the world. Actors not making into our acting school and becoming successful actors in American TV shows and big Hollywood productions. And I’m not talking about the crap part of tv shows and movies! But that’s what we are. Egotistical. If we can’t be better, we’ll make sure they are worse. We won’t employ them, because they might be better than us and they might take our job that we perform carelessly and only to earn money to take care of ourselves. It’s been more than five years ago, when things were still somewhat ok, since I first predicted that this country will be ruined by egotism and relativism. Welcome to the future.
I don’t say this often enough, they tell me. It is quite shameful of the country’s media that there have been no job offers even after so much exposure and seven Slovenia Press Photo awards. I consider it normal. It doesn’t surprise me at all. Jobs are handed out through very different criteria here. (remember where we are on the chart?) And besides, there’s no money. Which is why I had enough and decided the only option for my life to move forward is to go out. We all know the only way to survive in Slovenia is to go abroad. We work here with no prospect for the future, no money, simply because we think we have to work to earn a living. But very few of us realize we’re working, and a lot of times wearing ourselves out, for nothing. We don’t make a living, we’re deadlocked in place. So here’s my point: why work then? Where’s the sense in working for a humiliatingly low fee while your boss makes a living and drives a BMW? Fuck them!
So my only chance was Australia. It didn’t happen. You can imagine what my other option is. And I’m taking it now.
The Australia defeat gave me something else. The power to do the only thing right now that I think makes sense. The only thing that has a purpose. My long awaited, even longer contemplated, for a long time avoided project. It’s been on the agenda for a very long time, but I keep postponing it. It’s not photography. I’ll be working as a photojournalist the way I’ve been working so far, but as it proved, it’s not taking me anywhere. No, this will be something much larger, and in the coming weeks and months, I’ll finally put my words into action. I am working on my website right now. After that, the project will commence with interviews. I owe it to A LOT of people, but mostly my parents.
It’s a project I can’t expect any future from it. It’s not a bread winner, it’s nothing in terms of carreer or making a living. But I let go of those ambitions in this shithole. I’m doing this for a greater purpose. Even if I later decide the project will never go public, it is important that I do this. It is also the only way to make sense of my life. And that’s why I’ve avoided it for so long. Because I know nothing makes sense here. But fortunately that’s just a byproduct. The much larger main objective of the project has very little to do with me and a lot more to do with people around me who need to know they haven’t failed. It’s easy to believe otherwise.