The Stories We Live

IMG_4426“Call me Ishmael. Some years ago—never mind how long precisely—having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world.” -Moby Dick

This is quite possibly one of the most recognizable opening lines in classic literature. But what makes this story and so many others so recognizable? What makes an interesting story?

To begin with, it would be helpful to discuss the idea of story itself. Generally, a great story will cover five basic (leaving all complexity aside) elements: Introduction/Beginning; Rising Action/Conflict; Climax; Falling Action; and finally Resolution/End. This is a general rule and has much flexibility to it, but if you pay attention to a good story, on some level, it will follow this template.

We each have our own story, as well as being part of a larger story involving others, but some people feel their story is not as exciting/interesting/creative as those around them. Those individuals therefore try to live vicariously through someone else’s story.

Maybe we fail to see our own story as interesting because we so often neglect to ask why. Why am I doing this? What is the point?

If story is revolving around an axis with some sort of climax, there must be an answer to the why question. Failing to know why we are living the story we are results in feeling like our lives are mundane and boring.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

I have chosen to work in a field where I get to tell people’s stories; stories that make each of us unique and interesting (even if we don’t think our own story is that interesting).  I have found that when we think about the ‘why’ question and can answer it, we usually find our story is not as boring and mundane as we might have thought. I get the privilege, like so many others, to challenge people to ask that question and see their story as interesting and dynamic.

Your story is as interesting as you want to make it. I don’t mean live someone else’s story as your own; rather, embrace the story you are in. See the creativity staring right at you, embrace the opportunities that are there and live an adventurous life wherever you are. I love the movie The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and I think they have done a great job of capturing this idea of embracing the adventure that is right in front of you. It isn’t that you must travel to some exotic location in the world or do some amazing thing that no one else has ever done. It is that you live each moment to its fullest and live the story God has given you to live.

So I ask you, what story are you living out?

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A New Adventure

St. Paul's Cathedral

Where history meets modernity, St. Paul’s Cathedral with the Millennial Bridge

I like to think of life as a series of adventures, some are longer or more interesting than others, but adventures they all are none the less. I guess in some ways I’m an adventure junky or something.

4 years ago I moved back to the U.S. after living in Russia for a few years. After getting married and a Masters degree, my wife and I find ourselves on the biggest adventure we’ve ever been on. When we moved back to the states, we new it was not a long term move. We knew we’d be moving back and it was just a matter of time. We now find ourselves living and working in London, England as international photojournalist. Pretty exciting stuff.

I now find myself wanting to get back into the habit of writing out my thoughts and sharing them. This is quite a challenge as so often I feel like my mind is moving from one thing to the next rather quickly, but it is a challenge I am accepting and working to fulfill. So here’s to another adventure together!!!

The (Travel) Bug

Moscow State UniversityI’m sick, I might even have a disease. The symptoms? If I stay in one place for too long I am prone to want to go on an adventure to some far off land. It really is bad. I mean I have heard people talk about wanderlust but really, this is serious.

The problem is, my wife and I have been living in the same small town in North Carolina for about a year and a half now and I’m craving adventure. We are here because I’m working on my masters degree, with the goal of moving back overseas (we both lived overseas for a bit of time a few years ago). In the time we have been living here we have gotten to do a little bit of traveling and have even had the opportunity to go on a photojournalism trip to the Czech Republic and Hungary. But despite what it sounds like, I think the urge for adventure hits me about every three months.

I’m coming up on my three month mark. I find myself looking at travel photojournalism websites, reading the blogs of photojournalists, and dreaming about being somewhere else. I don’t really understand all of this, I’m wired a bit differently (my wife can attest to that). I don’t know what to do with this urge except go with it!

This weekend we are taking a trip up to West Virginia to visit family and attend a family reunion. I guess this is going to have suffice to the bug for now. It is a road trip and since we don’t have any other trips planned till November, well I’ll take what I can get.

Life always seems interesting, the kind of interesting that is good, but leaves you looking forward and wondering what will tomorrow bring. When I lived in Russia and was traveling around the country to photograph different people groups, or just photographing around Moscow, I wondered what life would be like after I moved back to the United States, but now, I find myself daydreaming of life back overseas. What will it be like? Where will we live? What will the art culture be like there?

I love to learn about how different cultures interact with art. All embrace it in some fashion or another, but what are the intricacies of how they do it? That is what my travel bug is all about, capturing the way that a culture views and embraces art.