As 2016 draws to a lightning-fast-but-still-not-fast-enough close, I'm looking forward to the 16-some-odd hour drive home to Oregon on New Year's Day with my wife.
For the last 3 years since I have pursued a photographic career, I've met myself with an incredible amount of traveling around the world, going to places I never thought I would... and often, places I didn't even know existed. Among my favorites have been Uganda, Vietnam, and Australia - with an incredible amount of other countries that I've loved and have been challenged in and have grown through.
Traveling has taught me patience, kindness, and courage.
I had to learn to be okay with staying in an airport overnight when my flight got cancelled, when I missed a connection, when a plane got delayed on the runway, or, in two cases, when it had to turn around and return to the airport of origin due to a malfunction. Sleeping on an cardboard airport sign with one croissant, a cup of orange juice and luggage changes the way you see the glamour of travel.
I learned kindness by the necessity of adjusting in real time to new cultures and languages. Whether it was learning that soft-spoken Japanese people don't like me yelling out of excitement at the top of my lungs, or realizing that the airport waitress in Italy was probably having just as bad a day as I was, or that, by comparison, the US probably isn't as accepting as Brazil is at a community level, I learned that kindness is a key to life around the world.
Finally, leaving the comfort of my apartment, my city, my state, and my country every 2 months for a week, a month, 3 months at a time and putting yourself in new cities, in new neighborhoods, with new people teaches you courage. It teaches you to look at the $3.58 in your bank account and figure out a way to make $200 in the next 7 days so that you can survive and get home. It teaches you that planes are actually REALLY safe and that you can actually trust most people. I became bold, I became courageous, and I became strong through traveling.
And yet, for as much as it has that has been so good - qualities I would never trade for the world - traveling also taught me to not build things that last, but instead, figure out how to just skirt by, sometimes on less than a hundred bucks a week in a foreign country.
It taught me that I could make my relationships more surface-level if I needed to - that I could disconnect if I wanted to, because I was just going to get on an airplane soon anyway, and I wouldn't be home for 3 months.
It taught me that I could rely on my lowest-common-value-creator - that I could put out content that was easy and made me money, instead of challenging me to provide value in new ways.
And, for as much work as traveling has been these last 3 years, it's also taught me how to be super lazy. It's a lot easier to ride canal boats and swim in tropical waterfalls and have a beer with a friend instead of focus on my business and my future.
It's not to say that marriage is bad, in anyway, but in the last few months that have led up to my marriage to my wife, I've learned that I can now shift my perspective, safely, to something more intentional, life-giving, value-bringing, and relationship building. If you read my post on how I found my vision for 2017, you know that my focus for this coming year is Family, Content, and Clients.
Tasking myself with helping Kiara feel safe, comfortable, and passionate in a new country puts a different cadence in me - a rhythm, if you will, that beats not outward, but forward, towards something that lasts.
Something that gives life.
That conjures smiles.
Something that brings light to the darkness.
2017 is going to be a year, for me, of consistent building. It's not that I don't want to or won't travel - it's that my focus is going to be on staying (mostly) my own state and continuing to build a reliable business with a healthy, strong business model. Now that I'm going home, now that I don't have to plan for a 3-month trip to Australia or a weekend in Thailand or a week in the U.K., I can focus on the business I want to create.
The people I want to pour life in to.
The city that I love so dearly.
The things that are right in front of me that need my attention, more than ever. These are my focus for 2017.
So tomorrow, I drive home, hand-in-hand with my wife, and we start the next part of our lives together. We start our future. (We're back on a plane next week for work in L.A., but hey... we're heading home.)
See you in 2017,
If you're ever in Portland, Oregon in 2017, come say hi! We love having coffee with creatives who get a chance to stop through. Just shoot us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll try to grab coffee.
I'm on a mission to show that the light will always pierce through the darkness.