About three years ago I went through the hardest time of my life. It was definitely my darkest hour and I don’t wish this type of anguish on anyone. I am not going to get into specifics, but those of you that know me best, know the details. A lot of you may have been in a similar state, some much worse off than I was.
When a person is faced with this degree of sadness, heartbreak and suffering, the majority of people would take the easy road and just give up or look for sympathy from others. Since I had never been faced with such adversity, I really did not know how to deal with it at first. I could not even concentrate on work as I had left my amazing job because of this whole ordeal! My first instinct was to lie around and hope the pain would just go away. After a few weeks, I realized that I had lost over 20 lbs and had barely slept. I was deteriorating.
Then one day it hit me… I have never been the type of person to give up, why start now? I decided to turn this negative energy into something positive and joined a gym. I turned sadness and anger into repetition after repetition. After a few months, I had completely transformed my body using the negativity as fuel. While I got my affairs in order, the intense exercise provided me with an outlet and helped me think more clearly. Something had lit a fire in me and it was turning into a raging inferno.
After those few months, I had finally sorted out most of the problems, but needed to really decompress. My affairs were settled on a Tuesday. The following Wednesday, I found myself on a flight to Sydney, Australia. It would turn out to be one of the best decisions I have ever made. Little did I know, my whole life would change on this flight.
It was on this 15 hour flight where I heard one of the most inspirational quotes that completely changed the way I live my life. I had seen this movie a hundred times before, but this time, what Morgan Freeman said hit me so hard it brought me to tears on that Qantas flight, only a few hours out of LAX. You know the quote… “Get Busy Living, or Get Busy Dying… That’s Goddamn right!” – The Shawshank Redemption.
From that instant, my life changed. What was important to me before, suddenly became pointless. What seemed pointless before, all of a sudden meant the world to me. The suffering I had just endured was a beacon to change the way I lived. Call it a moment of clarity or whatever you like, but from that moment onward, my entire existence made sense.
In these last three years I have experienced and accomplished things that I would have called people crazy or stupid for even attempting. On that first flight to Australia, I created a bucket list and have checked off almost every single item since. I have started adding new items to the list because I need new, crazier things to accomplish!
I climbed mountains, traversed the cracks and caves of an ancient glacier, Bungy jumped on two continents, jumped out of a perfectly good airplane, shot Rambo’s machine gun, went diving in the Great Barrier Reef, pushed my body to the pinnacle of physical fitness, tore around Melbourne in a Lamborghini, swam with Great White Sharks, listened to Lions roar and Hyenas cackle outside my tent in Africa, almost died while white water rafting the Zambezi river…. You get the picture, I have done a lot! This short list is just the proverbial tip of the iceberg. When I try to list everything, it seems as though I have lived an entire lifetime of experiences since my ordeal, only three short years ago. The funny thing is, I feel like I am just getting started!
I have also learned and grown a lot on a personal and professional level. I have had clients that have become great friends and made connections with people all around the globe that have made such a positive impact on my life. My biggest accomplishment is the fact that I have turned photography, my greatest passion, into a successful business with thousands of readers following this blog all around the globe.
Don’t get the wrong idea, I am not trying to brag or boast. Those of you close to me know that I hate when people do that. I am only trying to illustrate to you that there is nothing at all in this world that should keep you down. NOTHING.
For me, it took a horrible, life changing event to wake me up and to realize what really matters. To quote Morgan Freeman in the Shawshank Redemption again… “He crawled through a river of shit and came out clean on the other side.” (That movie has so many great quotes!). Again, this hits really close to home with me because if it were not for the horrible ordeal I went through, I would have never discovered myself, I would have never became a professional photographer and I would have never traveled around the world three times in such a short time.
I got the inspiration to write this as I laid out in the California Sun yesterday and realized how fortunate I am. I am doing what I love and am living a life that most people would be envious of. I cannot express how thankful I am for everything that I have been given, even the hardships. These hard times and the way we handle them are what moulds us and guides us to either prosperity or despair.
I am also writing this because I know there are a few of you out there that are going through hard times. I hope that my experiences will help you get through it. Focus on the good and positive, use negativity to fuel your ambition, prove to yourself that you will not lie down. Move on. There are also two passages in the bible that I really like… “And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint” – Luke 18:1… and my absolute favorite passage from the good book “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” – Philippians 4:13.
The last thing I want to mention was the most amazing compliment I have ever received… About a year ago, a person I didn’t know too well at the time came up to me at the gym and said a few words that almost brought me to tears, right beside the bench press. All he said to me was “hey man, when you are around, everyone around you gets happier”. Imagine that? I did not even know what to say, it was the nicest compliment anyone could ever give me.
Below are just a few of the images that I downloaded from my Facebook. I guess you could call it a lifetime in pictures, but it is only a handful of things I have done in the past three years!
Cheers readers… More of California and the USA is coming, but I had to write this first!