This is likely the best picture I have ever taken.
No. It is the best picture I've ever taken, and there's the very real possibility that nothing will ever match it in sheer beauty or significance. I'm not, after all, a photographer in any real sense, and I see it as pure happenstance that I managed to capture this incredible image in pixels.
A friend and I were talking about creativity today, in passing, and we bumped up against the idea of reaching one's peak. There are no accounts of creativity that deny the very real fact that nobody makes masterpieces forever. Inevitably, you reach a point where you can no longer best yourself, where you are over the hill. Perhaps this is no different from the basic facts of mortality, that so much of getting old is recognizing what you can no longer do. It seems that this is somehow neglected when we think of creativity. Something in our narrative of the artist as creative genius implies a superhuman ability to break this cycle of the tides. It is as if in championing creativity as the panacea for our ills, we've detached it from the inherently limited human beings that express it. A byproduct of this is the very real surprise faced by pretty much anyone of my generation, who come to realize that their artistic aspirations won't materialize themselves. Creation is hard work. It requires discipline. Not cool. If you want to understand why the youth of today have a terrifying, almost despotic, sense of entitlement, it might be worth looking at what was in the feed. If you tell every child that they are a beat poet waiting to happen, don't be surprised by the results.
I remember a distinct moment in high school where I felt I was already past my prime. It involved the careless speech of an obviously overly talented science teacher, one who essentially told all of the sixteen year-olds clustered before him that all important discoveries were made by scientists under thirty. Or something to that effect. No pressure. None of us were equipped with the experience to ask why we should qualify ourselves by our discoveries, by our originality. This was a given.
If I can get through life (a horrendous expression) without doing anything new, I'll count myself fortunate, having lived free from the warped demands of novelty. I celebrate the passing of my photographic prime with genuine relief, looking forward to the countless ill-framed snapshots of friends to follow.