Dear friends, a thought this morning: why traveling will make your life more exciting.
Ultimately, I think what we strive towards is to live a maximally interesting life. What does it mean to live a more interesting life? A life of more uncertainty, danger, and challenge.
Why is modern life so boring?
My theory is this: modern living is modern slavery.
For example, the downside of technology, email is this: the asymmetry of task allocation.
As an example, as a thought experiment let us say that you receive 100,000 emails a day. It is literally impossible for you to manually respond to each email. The amount of incoming email increases, yet you cannot personally scale yourself.
How do we tolerate this modern slavery? Escapism and promise of a brighter future. For example, buying the new Tesla, buying the new Apple product, or waiting for some new product to come out, that will somehow cure us of our modern day feelings of enslavement. Even a lot of the consumers things we purchase, is a promise of living a more exciting life.
Why live a more exciting life?
As a pragmatic thought: what is the upside of living a more exciting life?
My thought is that it is human nature to desire more excitement. More challenges, greater difficulty, greater horizons and greater explorations. I believe it is actually the desire for more, in the lust for adventure is what has brought us humans here.
Why travel and photography is a great combination
The tricky thing is nowadays, a lot of travel is another prepackaged product. The trend is towards having a little bit of adventure, yet not too much. The trend and tendency towards organized group tours, and excursions, which are just like prepackaged Disneyland rides. It is the promise of adventure, without uncertainty.
Also, a lot of travel is consumptive. A lot of people travel in order to just eat, and vegetate, without doing much else.
The reason why traveling in photography is so virtuous is that it actually gives us a real motivation to go out and do stuff and create. The ultimate aim and goal of traveling and photography is traveling in order to experience new things, in order to make new photographs. And I suppose the difference between “travel photography” and travel street photography is this: much of travel photography focuses on making postcard images, sunsets and the like, whereas travel street photography is more about the human element, uncertainty, randomness and chance.
All foreign places are good places
Honestly, traveling anywhere which is uncertain and new is good. For example, I even recently did trip to Charlottesville, and Ottawa in Canada, both places which are not considered the typical popular tourist destinations, yet I loved both. Why? They were different. Because I had zero knowledge of the cities, it was an open map for me to explore, photograph, and discover.
Why traveling inspires you to make new photographs
I believe there is a hidden compulsion for us photographers to photograph things which are new. Certainly we are more interested in new things than old things.
Even for my son Seneca, traveling to a new place, and being in a foreign environment stimulates him the most. He loves running around the airplane back cabin, he loves being in new hotels and Airbnb’s, and he loves exploring new cities.
The whole notion of “be grateful for what you got, or be grateful for where you are” I think is more Puritan notion of sour grapes. People would prefer to be in a new place, but because they are stuck in the old place, they try to mentally trick themselves into thinking that they should be grateful for it.
But new things are good things.
How far do I need to go?
The interesting thing about traveling and photography is that honestly, you don’t really need to go that far to experience me new. Any form of difference and novelty is typically good.
For example, in Southern California, even going to Joshua Tree is hugely great. I find something very refreshing and Zen about the desert.
My general sense is now, we could finally start planning life after Covid. We got the vaccinations, and the booster shots. I still think it is a good idea to travel on a plane or at the airport with a face mask on.
So the question is now: where can, or where should I travel to internationally?
It looks like a lot of people are still eager to go to Japan, yet Japan is only open to organized group tours, which seems pretty boring.
Searching places which I love which are currently open include Mexico City, Cambodia, Vietnam, Korea.
Cindy I and Seneca are actually going to Phnom Penh Cambodia this summer, as well as South Korea. The flight is long and arduous, yet the promise of new experiences and adventure is what interests me the most.
Why live your best life?
The notion of “living your best life” is actually a good one. Why? Let us just assume that this is your only conscious life. Let us assume that you’re allocated the maximum human lifespan of 120 years. Life is infinitely too long for it to be boring (Nietzsche).
For myself personally, I am the most curious about what can a human life be. That in this life, what can I accomplish and do, discover, and create? The same curiosity is what also is my parenting philosophy with Seneca: what can a child become?
In order to develop yourself to the max, one needs a monster of a challenge. For example, it is still my personal ambition to deadlift 700 pounds before I die, and perhaps squat 600 pounds. And maybe even bench 400 pounds. I may or may not ever achieve this challenge, yet having this insanely audacious challenge and pursuing the curiosity is what drives me.
Also, my personal ambition with photography is unlimited. Now that I have discovered the upside of JPEG, extra small JPEG, Ricoh GR 3X, blogging, the Internet, and myself, photography is infinite. No upper ceiling.
Fulfillment and photography
So the question is, do you ever want to be fully fulfilled in your photography? Perhaps not. If you feel that you are 100% satisfied and fulfilled, there is no more motivation for you to do anything else. It is actually dissatisfaction, and the lust for more is what drives us.
However my intervention is this: when we are fully maximally pursuing our passion in photography, and pushing and challenging ourselves, we feel fulfilled in exerting ourselves to the maximum, yet we still do feel motivated to do more, explore more.
Therefore as a simple thought: push yourself in photography to the maximum, and love the pursuit and challenge. Yet always have a hunger and desire for more.
Are you hungry for new adventure? Discover your soul in Street photography at my new and upcoming Seoul Street photography travel workshop experience >
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