You are ten-years-old. You watch television, read books, talk on the phone, buy the songs they play on the radio. You read the horoscope/sports/funnies in the newspaper. Certain special things you see or hear will stay with you for life. Depending on your generation, you know how to use a pencil, a still camera, a video camera, a computer. You are more observant and more curious than other kids. You like a boy/girl on your bus, and punch him/her.
Twenty. You are working at your first job in journalism. Your confidence is extreme. You master the equipment, the logistics of getting to an assignment, the deadline pressure. Your mentor encourages you to rely on your instincts and to learn some news judgment. There are no limits to your energy, you never think twice about dropping everything to go out on assignment, to get the shots. You get extra satisfaction when they lead with your story, and you're miserable if someone else gets the best assignment. You always play during your free time. You love hiking/drinking/music/sports/dating. The nicest piece of furniture in your apartment is your answer machine. You have no house plants or pets. You have a fling with your mentor/your work partner/your bartender.
Thirty. You are a journeyman in your trade. Having already shot every possible news story, you use your experience to find new variations on old assignments. You're frustrated by the ignorance of your assignment editor, but you take extra pleasure on the rare day your story comes out well. You get the best travel assignments, and someone else works the night shift. You get the first crack at new technology, and you can shoot your own story ideas. As head photographer, you set the standards for your unit, but you wonder if it's worth the headaches. When you have a chance to change markets, you carefully consider how it will affect your soul mate/your toddler/the new baby/the dog/your band.
The Big Four-Oh. You wonder whether you will spend the rest of your life crawling on the floor in someone's office, looking for an electrical outlet. "I'm too old for this," you complain, but you still feel like a kid. You resent the young person you have to work with, who knows nothing and doesn't want to learn. You cherish the young talented kid who was just hired, and think about mentoring/training/sleeping with him/her. You start using the diopter on your viewfinder. You look around for a career change, but the money is too good at the station/the paper/ the multimedia group. You love your family, your home, your car, your vacation trips, and when it comes right down to it, there is no job that can compare with the one you already have. "Your job must be so exciting!" people gush when they meet you at a party. "It must be," you reply.
Fifty. You come off the street to work the assignment desk for six months. It's the most miserable time of your life, and you cry tears of renewal when you return to the street. You park on the sidewalk, drive backwards down one-way streets and push and shove still photogs/video crews with new vigor. Your husband/wife/cat leaves you, but your children, who are in high school/college/their first job, need you more than ever. You fall in love with someone twenty years younger/older than you. You rely on your experience, stamina, and street smarts to keep up with the kids you compete with. You find more pleasure than ever in being at home. You still wear your pager on the trail, carry a cell phone in your saddlebag, and think about writing a book. Wondering how to be productive for the next fifteen years, you consider going back to school/opening a business/taking the buy out/signing up for the "Platypus Workshop." You take St. John's Wort/ginseng/Landmark seminars, and read up on Viagra/menopause.
Sixty. You learn everything you can about archiving photos/video/information files, as you notice the frequency your work from thirty years ago is requested. You're expecting another grandchild, and you make an appointment with your accountant to talk about retirement. You bitch about your assignments, but you love the people you meet in your work. It's amazing how many new technologies you've learned. You are the historian of obsolete techniques and people. Your granddaughter tapes your anecdotes for her Independent Study project. When young people ask your advice, you honestly don't know whether there is a future in your field. You tell them to take a lot of courses in science/history/business/fine arts, and you're pleased when they tease/admire/flirt with you.
Seventy. You decide to retire once you've had the knee replacement surgery. Your students from the college course you teach are getting good jobs, and send you samples of their work. You think about gardening, and getting a dog.
Eighty/Ninety. Why did they group eighty together with ninety? You still feel great, and you're productive. Your work has become truly quirky, and you shoot whatever you like, however you please. Your book is about to hit the best-seller list, and your second/third wife/husband/iguana wants to travel with you on your publicity tour. You flirt with the makeup artist/floor manager/host of the Today Show.
One hundred. A retrospective of your work
is in the Getty/Museum of Modern Art/Smithsonian, and on the Web/DTV/Space
Plane. Your grandchildren turned out great, and your perennials still bloom.
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