This Year I Turned 50
I hope you are doing well and having a great day.
This past spring I turned 50. It was part of a momentous year for our family as Di turned 40 last winter, and last month our son became a teenager. We each entered a new era.
Of course, if that’s what you believe. My mother-in-law said: It’s only because we dictate that it is a new era. Why doesn’t a new era start when you’re 46 ½?
I do actually agree with her. And intellectually I distance myself from the idea that I am any different from last year or even ten years ago. It’s a societal concept, right?
But I can’t deny my body feels a little different, and deep down there has been a shift in how I think about life. I know there isn’t a big clock ticking my life away, but you know, it can feel a little like that sometimes.
Which is probably why I found myself jogging up steep hills at 5am and seriously amping up my workouts.
But it’s still good, right, to keep fit, even if you are being driven a little by a fear of the clock.
(Maybe I shouldn’t say that too loud, I don’t want the fear to hear. Lol!)
What has this got to do with photography might you ask? Everything! Because I think my deep down fear could drive me in two ways – it could make me feel worried and anxious about ageing. Or it can drive me into being braver with my life right now.
Being more honest, not worrying so much about little things, allowing the journey to just take me where I need to go.
And so I continue to seek new ways to live and be creative.
I’ve been watching some of Jason Silva’s videos this – and some of his ideas really stood out. They make me think that these are relevant to me as a photographer and person trying to stay on the right side of brave.
The first idea that inspired me was from a video Why are we all so unhappy? Silva talks about how some of us have more resources than we historically thought humanly possible – and yet we are at our least happy, most stressed and actually most dissatisfied with our lives. Is it because humans are innate seekers? Always looking to conquer that next mountain? Never happy with enough?
Or is it because we find it almost impossible to live in the moment? My vote is with the latter because I know in my life, if I am always living in the future or past, my experience of the world is so much more shallow. I am not in the present moment if I am thinking about next week or that time three years ago when I made a tremendous mistake that was super-embarrassing.
Di and I often question the fact that we are so busy planning and organising our business and our lives that we aren’t left with many moments where we are actually feeling like we are experiencing life as it happens.
Beautiful evening light in London this week
And I tell you – even when you’re really conscious of it, life is constantly drawing you away into other moments, other times that are not here. Now.
His second idea is: There is no point of arrival, stop trying to get somewhere. Silva makes a beautiful case for reframing your life not a series of tasks to complete – but as an incredible undulating journey. Then the joy of life is to ask the questions and go on journeys of discovery, the joy is rarely found in the finding of answers.
It begs the question – do we ever need to totally arrive? I find this a very liberating idea.
Winter light in Spain – gorgeous
The third idea is: Why do we look at the infinite ocean and feel a sense of reverence and awe? Silva says: We look at it as it beckons us into the unknown, to the mystery of living.
I think we can all use more mystery in our lives. We can all shake ourselves out of the dust settling on our lives and experiences – and step into the unknown at any point. Even right now.
The fourth idea is: We need space to create art – a protected space. Essentially the journey to create art is an inward journey and you need to have someone looking after the outside world, the practical things, so you can take that journey and explore with abandon whilst experiencing a feeling of safety.
I couldn’t agree more. You may be in some far-flung country, but you are creating from a space within. You are drawing on everything that has come before in your life – and it feels like a mystical inner well that you need to connect with. Otherwise, you just end up floating on the surface of life, and not creating anything that means much to you.
Silva’s fifth idea is that when we see the beauty of the world – in nature, in the epicness of man’s creations – it is simply a way to remind us to fully inhabit this life that we are living. To not get lost in the details all the time, to take some time out, totally and completely.
So there we are. Some philosophy. Some thoughts on ageing. Some ideas. I’d love to know what you think, comment on my blog here.
Here are the videos I took these ideas from; they are all short, 2 – 5 minutes – and they are useful for a little kick of inspiration. I don’t always agree with his pronouncements, but I love Silva’s enthusiasm for exploring and making our lives an exciting, creative journey.
Hasta mañana amigos!
Anthony and Diana