Que sera, sera
Whatever will be, will be
The future’s not ours to see
Que sera, sera
— “Que Sera, Sera” (Whatever Will Be, Will Be) by songwriters Jay Livingston and Ray Evans
‘Where do you think you’ll be in 10 years?”
We are right in the middle of commencement season, the end of ceremonies at colleges and the beginning at high schools, and there’s no better time to torture a recent graduate with “the question.” But I can never ask it for fear of becoming the caricature of a sitcom grandfather.
If you ask someone in their 30s or 40s, you’ll get a rational, passionless answer about the uncertain state of the economy or jobs, or something about their kids growing up.
But with newbie graduates, you’re likely to get a recitation of the steps they will follow in a lifelong quest.
Or you might get an irrational, passionate rock-star dream.
Or maybe just a dazed stare. They are jumping off a cliff and don’t even know if there’s water down there.
I can’t say I regret any of the decisions that have led me to my here and now. Our family motto was keep moving forward if you make a wise choice — and if wasn’t so wise, learn from it and keep moving forward anyway. But how different would I be if I had dived into my post-grad dream of veterinary school instead of chucking it for love of photography? Would I still be taking photos, but in a different way?
I was walking recently through one of my favorite graduation experiences of the year: the RISD Graduate Thesis Exhibition at the R.I. Convention Center. Put it on your calendar for next year if you missed this season’s gallery showing of wow, wonderment and “what the heck is that?” The collection showing traditional art and design principles juxtaposed with tech and whimsy makes me curious about the futures of these young artists. What if they had not come to RISD, an environment that nurtures an artistic freedom and individuality not embraced everywhere. Would they still be pursuing art?
I like to follow the artists behind pieces that stand out to see if in a few years they are still creating or have moved on to other things. I’ve recognized an MFA textile designer’s pieces in photos from a New York fashion runway and a photography MFA grad’s book on display in a bookstore window.
A few might be gallery favorites one day. Some will burn out in the highly critical environment. Many will find another way to pay the bills while they keep creating for love in a small studio or a garage.
What would my answer have been if someone had asked me after my college graduation, a hundred years ago, it seems, “Where do you think you’ll be in 10 years?”
I wonder whether I would have made a good vet.
I try to see myself doing something other than what I do now, but there’s a filter I can’t remove. I do imagine other versions of my life. And I always picture them with a camera in my hand.
copyright 2016 Kris Craig / The Providence Journal / 2 Much Time design
P.S. The work I am reflected in above is “Ordinary Perfection”, a video installation by Liao Liao, a Digital Media MFA graduate