Life and Death

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I had hoped that January would be productive and creative. It wasn’t. Much of it was spent in tears, making impossibly hard decisions, and questioning why everything we love will sooner or later be separated from us. Winter is a time of reflection and introspection and I have been reflecting a lot.

The past few years have taught me much about life, loss and death, and yet I still know so little. I have held hands and paws as spirits surrendered and it was harder than I ever imagined. I lost two of the most precious beings in my life, one human and one animal, both irreplaceable and sacred. I watched friends lives be turned upside down by unexpected loss. I watched in those close to me, and observed within myself the intense pain, emptiness and purposelessness that loss weaves into those left behind.

I have spent a lot of time thinking about death, grief, and transition – how our culture instills so much fear and taboo around death and I don’t think it is healthy. We need open-ness, awareness and freedom to feel and express ourselves.

There have been moments in the last few years where I have questioned the purpose of life, because it can feel meaningless when we have to lose those we care so deeply about. I have learned that nothing is really mine to keep forever. All things shall pass. And so what I have come to believe is this: The only way to live unburdened of the truth that loss and change are inevitable, is to live wholly and fully while we can, right now. To be vibrantly, unapologetically, recklessly, colourfully alive. Initially it made me feel guilty to feel that way, I felt like it was disrespectful to those who no longer had life, but I have come to realise that it is far from that, it is the highest respect we can pay to those we have lost, to honour them by living our own lives fully. We spend so many of our days wrapped up in the superficial mundanity of everyday life that we miss what is real and what is truly important. We have to reconnect with the wild beauty of the world. We have to start living as though we are passionately alive: to be fully present in each moment as it is, to explore the planet, to explore our consciousness, to watch the sunsets, to experience the wonders of nature, to see the mountains and the rivers and the oceans and the forests. And to love. To love through loss, through sorrow, through heartbreak, through happiness, through fear. Love so fiercely that love becomes greater than fear.

I have decided to stop wasting time on things which aren’t important. It is time to go out and live, to see the world, to be free, to adventure, to love unconditionally. The antidote to death and grief is to be fully alive.

“Leave the path of death, and follow the path of life. Leave attachment to things and places, and instead enjoy the liberty of detachment. Do not cling to foolish friends, instead rejoice in solitude. Break free from possessions and from desires – from whatever may darken the mind. Attachment to things and to places is spiritual bondage, and leads to darkness. Surrender all attachments, and enjoy the pure light of spiritual freedom. Even in this mortal life you can enjoy eternal nirvana.”

― Dhammapada

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Endings and Beginnings

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Just before I went to Indonesia almost a year ago, after having to leave my flat in Edinburgh because my landlord was selling  (and I could barely afford the rent anyway), I had this idea that I could just buy a van and live in it and travel nomadically – writing, creating art, and volunteering on the way. Infact having a campervan was a dream I have had since I was pretty young, but in Bali it felt like anything was possible and so I planned, dreamt and set intentions for the way I wanted to live. Back home in the UK in the depths of winter it seemed like an overwhelming prospect and so I put the dream on hold in the back of my mind, but the seed had been sown.

This summer many synchronicities led me to feel that it was the right time to make some changes. I had felt a stagnancy for a while, both creatively and personally, and I needed to be moving forwards again.

Although I am endlessly grateful that I have been able to turn my passion into a career, mainly because it has given me so many opportunities, there have been too many times lately where I have been working so much that I have been losing the love I once felt for it. Being busy used to be something I aspired towards when I was first starting out in photography, but I have learned that for me it mostly just means a lot of stress and less time spent doing what I love like spending time with friends and family, being out in nature and making art just for the fun of it. I’ve never felt any desire to follow a set path in life, I’d rather just see where the wind takes me, and so in August I decided to finally start taking some risks. I bought a van to live in, and soon, once I have saved up a little money, my intention is to drastically cut down on commercial work (which will be easier without rent to pay) and be more free to focus on what is really important to me. Which is raising awareness and sharing positivity & hope through photography and writing, and also learning more about nature, permaculture and ways of healing the damage we have done to our planet. There are so many things I am passionate about and I am trying to create a space for myself where I can feel inspired and be free and not be trapped by a system that I don’t want to be a part of anymore.

I just wanted to share this, even though it is a bit rambling and incoherent, because I really appreciate all the support I have had from sharing my photography online over the past few years and I know I have been pretty terrible at keeping any social media or online stuff up to date lately. This is why, and hopefully soon I will have more time to do what inspires me and therefore have more to share. I have some work to do on the van over the winter but hopefully come springtime I’ll be on the road semi-permenantly. Right now I have no set plan, basically I have no idea what I’m doing(!), but this is exactly where I am supposed to be right now, I know that for sure.

Our lives on this little planet floating around in infinite space are so short in the timescale of the cosmos… I think we sometimes have to remind ourselves that we are the narrators of our own stories, we create our own realities, and if you are unsatisfied or unhappy with your life situation then you always have the power to change it. If you can’t change your outside circumstances then sometimes you have to change what is inside, but don’t ever let anyone or anything pressurize you into living a life that doesn’t fit you.

“So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservation, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future. The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.” Chris McCandless, Into the Wild

See you on the road 🙂