I find myself on yet another cross country flight, on yet another exciting trip, reflecting on life as I perceive it right now versus years past. It's amazing how the older we all get we feel like we haven't changed as pieces of our old selves still live within us, for better or worse, and that the majority of the changes we perceive are happening around us. Sure life happens and our bodies all start slowing down and our joints ache more in the morning or the hangovers hit a whole hell of a lot harder than when we were 19 at that party and the cops showed up and everyone ran...And now we can just go get hammered at the bar your friend bartends at. We do the same things but the older that we get, the stakes are greater and we have more to lose. But we also have more to gain.
I think about taking time off and how between having a full time job and working for myself as a freelance photographer and branding consultant, that I always feel a noticeable amount of guilt for taking time for myself. I only have so many vacation days and heaven forbid I get sick and have to use one of them. Being that my full time job is in live event production, weekend's are never guaranteed either. I've prided myself in being able to work +14 days straight without a break, averaging 12-14 hours a day. I also pride myself in being able to refine my processes so I can shave time off of the day and increase my own productivity as it benefits everyone in the long run. Where I used to obsess over working non-stop, over the past year I've accepted the importance in taking personal time where ever I can get it.
Why it took this long for me to figure that out is beyond me. My father was a compulsive worker as well as being a functional alcoholic until he wasn't so functional and when he passed away I was confronted with the harsh reality head-on that life is very short and should not be taken for granted. 49. He was 49 years old. So in other words, really fucking young with still a lot of life to live.
And since then, I've been on a wild adventure, at first to find myself because I was 17 and had no clue about what I enjoyed and what I was interested in and how to even digest the fact that I had a future all of a sudden that didn't involve taking care of him. I left my almost full ride scholarship to Belmont University behind and ran off to the mountains of New Mexico, picked up my camera, and found myself. After moving back to Nashville and then two years later to Los Angeles, while taking multiple trips for work and pleasure all over the country, I found something I enjoyed.
I call it "living." The common misconception made by folks in my peripheral, be it prospective employers, family members, Instagram followers, and so on, is that when I take off on a trip, I'm leaving things unfinished at home or at work or that it's all fun and no work, when neither is the case. Bills are paid upfront, work is done and communicated in detail where projects stand to the rest of the team, because I enjoy my job and my home and my lifestyle and I'm not trying to do anything to mess any of that up by running away from it and leaving it in disarray. So what if I go party down in Laguna one weekend and then go skiing in Big Bear the next weekend and then take two weeks off to go to Europe if the work is done and done well?
There's more to life than work. There's french wine to drink with the Eiffel Tower in the background and mountains to race down at +50mph with two skis attached. There's oceans to swim in and people to laugh with until you almost pee yourself. There's so much to see and experience outside of what we see right in front of ourselves, so why let it go to waste?
In order to really live and enjoy the finer things in life, you must first learn how to love yourself enough to be willing to invest in yourself. I'm going to Europe for less than I pay a months rent in Los Angeles and I picked a time with work for right before the season really kicks into gear so I'm not missing much. Sure, maybe I could invest the money into a mutual fund of some sorts, or into the stock market, and that works too. My point in all of this is simple--there is more to life than what is right in front of our faces and you shouldn't feel guilty for pursuing something that brings joy and happiness in your life so long as you're not hurting yourself or others in the process.
And if you haven't heard of WOW Airlines, you should. Seriously. My flight from NYC to Iceland was $210USD. I spend that much on food and coffee in two weeks...because coffee is it's own categorized expense...