A year and a half ago I read an article on the top regrets of dying people. What did those people regret? Living a life they didn’t want, working too hard, and not expressing their feelings.
The article made me think about what I want in life. I know that I want to express myself, see the world, and create nice pictures. I know that I want learn and teach. I know that don’t want to spend so much of my life indoors and that I want to wander and have fun.
I decided to listen to the article’s message and try to cut those regrets from my life. I’ve since thought of this as living my life “backwards.”
I spend most of my days writing, photographing, and brainstorming ideas for how to become a better storyteller. Right now that work is hard. After living in Cambodia for a few months the streets are no longer surprising. I have to dig for interesting stories. It’s embarassing to admit that I am bad at something and want to improve.
My dream is has been consistent for a long time: I want a life where I can take pictures and write every day about the things I find interesting. I want a career where I can always be learning and growing and sharing. I’m ok with living simply as long as I can follow that dream.
Below are a few recent shots from Phnom Penh. They suck. When I see them I think of this amazing quote from Ira Glass. It reminds me that knowing my own work sucks is okay.
“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.” Ira Glass