I think its fair to say, 2014 was a memorable year for me. To each and every one of you that I have met along the way this year, thanks for being apart of this crazy ride. I'm amazed at the journey I just finished in 2014. No, I'm downright in awe. Travel is more about the people you meet and less about where you go. Without you all, this would have been one boring year. So thank you! Thank you thank you thank you! And for those that have been so supportive back home, thank you for the love, the emails, and the random check-ins. Hopefully, I was able to return that in some small way as well, though I feel like I received waaaay more than I gave this year. It's humbling.
When I think back over my year, from riding the unreserved class trains in India, to talking with a sadhu in a river bed beneath the Taj Mahal, swiming in the Ganges, sitting on the rooftops of Hong Kong, trekking with Tibetan monks, drinking kumus in a yurt that I rode my own horse to get to, diving in some of the most incredible waters in the world, learning to surf, eating amazing food, and experiencing so many different languages and cultures in such a short time, I'm dumbfounded. I can't process it all in my head. Wait, I actually did all of that?
It simply would not be fair to the year or to you, as I would be breezing over so many details, to try and sum up the experience. A single blog post is not a sufficient platform for the quantity of stories that I have and honestly, I don't think thats really what this post is about anyway. I think instead this is more about what has left me changed, about the vision that my adventure in 2014 has given me, and what that means for 2015 and beyond.
What was 2014? The absolute grandest adventure of my life. I met amazing, AMAZING people. I did and saw the most incredible things I could ever dream up. And for that alone, 2014 was a successful year. The things that I've learned and seen this year will shape me forever, and I'm forever grateful for this opportunity. What will 2015 be? Time to get to work. 2015 is about doing something with that vision and using it to create value.
Personally, here are some of my goals for 2015:
1) Write more. Why? It's a powerful story telling tool and medium. Because as I've traveled, I've realized how much writing focuses my thoughts and in turn, my photographs. It helps me flesh out ideas and it helps me understand the things that I've experienced on another level. It's also a way for me to share what I'm experiencing, through this blog, because something else I've learned in a big way this year is that happiness is best when shared. And not only that, but I think it has a tendency to go sour when it's not. Blogging is a way make the experience richer for myself, by sharing it with you.
2) Make photographs of everything and anything. I'm embarrassed to admit this one. I have to tell you, it hurts to write this in a public space. I regret not pushing the shutter button on my camera more in 2014. 2015 came quicker than I knew what to do with it. And I look back at last year and think "I wish I had tripped that shutter a few thousand more times." I spent a lot of time trying to define what it was that I "did" and all I really accomplished was wasting a lot of time I could have been out shooting. It's not that I didn't make photographs. It's that in regards to creating meaningful photographic work, I feel that I squandered a large chunk of the money and time that I had and didn't make as many as I could have. I was not well organized going into this thing. I had no clue what I was doing. I basically tossed a camera in a bag and hopped on a plane. I wandered. I spent a lot of time in transit. I sat on my butt a fair amount planning my next moves. I felt like I was "always about to go shoot something" and then at one point I found myself being the worst kind of photographer: one who doesn't take pictures.
There is no doubt in my mind, this is what I want to do with my life for the foreseeable future. I want to be a photographer. More specifically, I want to be a story teller. I fought the camera this past year. Hard. I really struggled out here with photography. Wandering the streets for photographs is hard to do for 12 months, and the reality is, it's not enough for me. I'm more interested in stories to tell, stories about humanity, about life on this rock flying through space, the struggles and the successes. The camera and the pen are made for things such as these.
In some ways, photography has become a simile for my life. Not that photography is all I care about, but simply, it's taught me how to live. I laugh at myself so hard, because while being an engineer gives me some incredible skills for problem solving, it also causes me to get too linear in the way I think sometimes. I spent too much time thinking about what I want to do, where I want to go, and what I needed to do to get where I wanted to go, and not enough time thinking about how I could be useful. And I ended up feeling useless. Ha! Imagine that. That's going to change in 2015. 2015 is about using the tools I have to contribute, and do something concrete and valuable with it. I want my photographs to matter. To create value. And just in the way I want my photography to be useful, I want my life to be useful. I'm not living to achieve. I'm living to contribute.
That doesn't mean I won't photograph for myself persay. Having a personal vision is important, and in 2015, I'm going to continue to develop that further. And the reality is, most of what I'll do this year will probably be towards that development. But my real goal is for my skills to be put to good use. So, I'm going to offer this up to anyone who is reading: Got a story to tell? I love adventure and humanity, I've got a camera, and I love to write. Let me know how I can help. Seriously, let's talk. Send me a message here. I want to be apart of what you are trying to accomplish in whatever way I can assist.
I have a feeling that 2015 is going to be another one for the record books just like 2014 was. I can't wait to get back out there in the middle of it all with a camera in my hand and find the light.