Clearing Your Head

Not long ago I made an attempt to get back into a hobby I used to love: arcade game collecting. What started this was how a business decided to offload a bunch of arcade games including some Japanese candy cabs. Since I love SHMUPs playing them on a proper cab is the best way to enjoy them. So I picked up two of them. Not long after that a co-worker wanted to sell off some games as he didn't want to move all of them part way across the country. So to help him out (one of them being a Donkey Kong I was interested in restoring) I bought some off of him.

But then I discovered something: I couldn't get them to my apartment because of the way the stairs are designed. Yay.

So I started renting a storage unit and put them there. With the thought that I could eventually get in a place where I could actually have them in my home.

Recently I was cleaning up my place and after a bit I thought to myself "Why the hell do I have all this stuff?" Not like it was a lot of stuff like 'Oh I could use this later'. My mother was really bad about that so I made a point years ago to NOT do that. But there were still things that were just sitting there untouched that I would always think I'd get back to at some point. A bunch of really obscure records that I wanted to digitize. A console video game collection that I would set aside time to play. Hardware to create chiptunes on. And with that the arcade games I'd get somewhere and restore.

There would always be these reminders of things I "wanted" to do. And after some time it got to be distracting. Walk through my place to get to the kitchen to grab a drink and I'd see the bookcase of video games. I'd be in my bedroom packing up gear for a shoot and I'd see the records sitting in my closet.

That's when I realized that they were a distraction... and they would keep me from focusing on what I want to do with photography.

So I knew I should no longer keep this stuff around.

After further reflection I realized this also extended to my online life as well. Over the years I've become a big part of some online communities. And some of them very much instrumental in helping me getting to where I am today. But much like real life they served a similar function: they were things I "could" be doing.

In some instances it sucks that I needed to make these moves. I'll still be supporting them in certain ways through my work. Plus I'll see them at various events across the country. So it's not a complete abandonment. It's still weird to take a step back from things that were integral to me developing as a photographer and as a person.

But sometimes in order to move forward you have to leave some things behind.

And that's okay.

I'm still going to help move as many people forward as I can.

Rob Swackhamer
August 13, 2017