What do you do?

Sometimes I struggle with my contribution to the world. I work in advertising, and it has been good to me. But is my career full of purpose? Does it have worth?

I was watching a program earlier this evening about artifacts from 9/11 that are slated to end up in the National September 11 Memorial Museum. One of the gentlemen interviewed, a New York native, felt helpless but was desperate to offer assistance. Then it hit him: he’s a photographer. His assistance would come in the form of photographing the destruction, the recovery efforts, the aftermath. He created an archive of more than 8,000 photos when all was said and done.

What a gift for generations to come, what an offering to survivors. The photographer’s words could not have been more true. He spoke of a task that was almost a duty, so that others could make sense of the tragedy in their own way.

Ads and media may be in the same boat as this man’s photography skills. Perhaps my knowledge of both hasn’t yet had its time to shine — no historic event for which to rise up — but perhaps one day it will.

The funny thing about reflecting on my own contributions is that I inevitably compare them to others’ moments of greatness. What, therefore, do we do? We prepare, and we take comfort in knowing that when the right moment — the right opportunity — comes along, our learnings and our livelihood will be called into action…even if the action is simply putting us in the path of someone who’s meant to put us on a new one.

Tonight I am thankful for all that I’ve learned, all that I’ve seen and for all that I’ve yet to do. May another event as catastrophic as 9/11 never touch our soil again, but should my background somehow happen to be called upon in the event it does, I’ll be ready.

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