Today is my birthday.

…although I’m at the age where I’d rather forget about a silly number that doesn’t truly reflect how I actually feel in life. I’m fortunate to live a life where every day is a blessing, so my day of birth feels like just another day.

What today is good for, however, is retrospection and new beginnings. What went well in the last year, and what’s to come in the next. The past and the future, so that I can get on with the present.

Looking back on the year that was, is like sticking my head out of a moving car.

Moments & memories, triumphs & failures, highs & lows. So many experiences to recall in a year that in hindsight, feels more jam-packed than any other year I had in my twenties; the time when life is supposed to be the fullest (if you live it well).

Over the past year, I put the gas on some things that were important to me:

  • I made the career switch and took the leap into doing photography full-time.
  • I started my new business.
  • Launched five products (and am almost finished making the 6th).
  • I taught hundreds of thousands of people just a little bit about photography through this site.
  • Visited 11 new countries.
  • I finally got to live in Japan (although it was cut short).
  • I made new international friends.
  • I learned how to speak Japanese like a toddler (I’ll get to kindergartener one day).

But of course, the journey is never all guns and roses:

  • I lost friends.
  • I realised the hard truths about the many sides of Japan (but still love it and want to go back all the same).
  • Someone stole my AirPods (it’s the important things, right?).
  • And of course, the global pandemic hit, and like many others, my business took a tumble.

But on the whole, it’s hard to look back on this year and not think, fuck, a lot of good shit happened. I’m so happy and grateful I can walk away from it with a deep fulfilment and satisfaction in my chest. All said and done, it has been one of the best years I’ve had so far in terms of life progression.

Of course, that was always the intention; I set my motives quite some time ago. But stopping for a quick minute to look back at the journey makes you appreciate just how time passes and how much has passed; especially when you’re in the moment-to-moment time-warp, unaware of how fast you’re actually going day-by-day when you’re just living minute-to-minute.

A lot can happen in a year.

And—global pandemic be dammed—this year, will be no different. And this year starts today.

Today, I’m starting another new thing in the perpetual, ongoing adventure of starting new things.

YouTube.

I’m starting it because lately (over the entire year tbh), I’ve been feeling a little too comfortable with my photography.

I’m continually butting into the diminishing returns of effort required vs skill gained when it comes to the mastery of photography. Of course, there’s always more to learn, but thinking about the return I get with how I can use those very specific, nuanced skills versus the time and effort it takes to acquire even the existence of them (because you don’t know what you don’t know) is not a trade-off I want to focus on right now.

Rather, I’d prefer to put that on the slow burn; photography is a life pursuit, after all. And the smaller details will reveal themselves in time.

Instead, I’m going to try something different.

I’m going to put my energy into YouTube and into making videos; into acquiring the vast skillset to be able to tell stories in video format well; into breaking through the last shred of perverse shyness that has plagued me for most of my adult life; into being able to help people on a platform hopefully greater than what I’ve previously built elsewhere.

It’s about being uncomfortable.

Learning new skills, being in front of the camera; these things make me uncomfortable. It’s in this state that I’m happiest. It’s in this state that I know I’m growing and staying true to the pursuit of being a life learner.

And, to ensure that I stay on this path, I, once again, burned my bridges to comfort island.

Being so vocal about it on Instagram, writing about it on this blog post, being so public about it on all my platforms. It means that I’ve got nowhere to hide, nowhere to run, no possibility of slacking off and going back on my word—public accountability on nothing else but forward momentum.

Because I know if I don’t do that, I’m too good at being comfortable. And I can’t have that. I’ve always been an “all or nothing”-type of guy anyway.

So, another day of birth, another new beginning. Another year flown by, another new beginning in the perpetual, ongoing adventure of starting new things.

Let this next one be just as uncomfortable as the last, with the deep inner fulfilment and all the trimmings—good and bad—that come with it.

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1 comment

  • Darren Haken says:

    Hi Pat, it’s great you’ll do YouTube, will you do any instructional videos on how to improve photography? I find your work amazing and I’d love to try and learn from you somehow.

    Please don’t stop writing, I still think there’s power in this medium and the accompanying photographs are really helpful and amazing.

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