I turned 28 the other day. For me every birthday since my 21st has brought mixed feelings. I rarely celebrate ‘getting older’ these days. It’s exciting to become an ‘adult’, but once you are one, well, the excitement pretty quickly wears off. Every birthday becomes a reminder that the clock is ticking, time isn’t standing still and your days on earth are limited. As if I wasn’t conscious of it all already, the death of that rather famous pop-icon was yet another reminder that we are all indeed mortal.
That sure is a morbid way of looking at things, especially for a young person, many of you will think. Hey, just stating a simple fact that no one can escape. I figure that since I realize this, I can at least try to make the most of what time I do have.
The life I’m currently living is the life I chose after finishing university. It’s the life I wanted. A 9-5 job just never appealed to me. I have done it (though not for long) hated it; and what’s the point of doing something we hate most of our lives?
I am very curious and I always feel the urge to express myself creatively, so, to put it simply, I chose to travel around the world, explore it, experience its different cultures and people and photograph some of what I see along the way.
It’s not a life for everyone and it’s not even entirely perfect for me, there’s the constant financial uncertainty that’s attached to this lifestyle and as I work on it, I have to compensate for months of fun with months of pretty full-on work in front of the computer, sorting out through images, emailing publications and agencies (something I don’t like so much) all that in hopes of getting rid of the financial uncertainty completely, some time in the not too distant future.
But the life I have is great, no complaints for most part. There’s nothing better than the feeling of being alive, of being so present in the moment that you don’t need to reflect on the past or the future, just see/feel what’s in front and around you right now. That’s how it is most of the time, while I’m on the road. What’s even better is the fact that I share all my experiences with the one person that really matters – my wife Tanya.
What’s the point of all this? Why am I posting these thoughts on the blog? Well, I simply want to share a bit of my philosophy, it’s relevant to any people not doing what they want with their lives and it seems like there are a lot of you out there. We often say to ourselves – “Tomorrow”, but one day tomorrow becomes yesterday and you missed your chance.
Whether it’s a dream photography project you’ve been putting off for years or whatever else, the window of opportunity eventually closes. We have to seize the chance or regret things for eternity.
I’m going to seize my own chance, a chance to see some of my family members on the other side of the world this August. I haven’t seen my grandparents for far too long and they won’t be around forever, one grandfather has already gone and neither me nor my father had a chance to say good-bye . I wouldn’t really be going to Eastern Europe at this stage of my life and my career, if it wasn’t for my desire to spend time with them, but I will make the most of this time photographically. Hopefully I can scrape enough cash for a used car (reason I’m not getting a 5D MKII yet) and explore Belarus, Ukraine and perhaps Poland and Moldova, and of course photograph a few things along the way.
Though my mind wants to go to Africa, South America, some place new or at least back to the warmth and familiarity of Asia, my heart is telling me to go see my family and to take Tanya to see her family (they live in the same country). I guess sometimes, and this will sound very cheesy, you gotta follow your heart. I feel like spewing after using such clichéd phrases, but that’s the truth and there isn’t any better or simpler way of saying it.
Above is an image of a mother and daughter from the Palesie region of Belarus. The the mother was 93, the daughter 73 at the time the photo was taken. The region is quite famous for ‘producing’ people who live long and productive lives. Both, the daughter and the mother were still working in the garden, planting things and doing house chores. Palesie is one region which I want to revisit and explore in depth during this trip.