I haven't written for a while, and that's ok. The wrong people tell you to generate content consistently for often the wrong reasons. Today however, I wanted to write; and I wanted to tell you about loss, fear and bravery.
This week I lost a friend of mine to addiction. He was my closest friend for a time in my life where I did alot of growing up. Although we'd only loosely kept in touch since then, I always appreciated what he taught me and how he looked out for me. He was an arse too, sometimes difficult, but always gave a shit and always ready to make time for me. He leaves behind two children, and half a life not lived.
I had an urge to contact him two days before he passed away and didn’t, and I'm trying not to kick myself about it. Addictions are awful and nothing short of a disease, and it's starved another bunch of people of someone - despite all their flaws - inherently good.
Grief is a funny thing. I'm fortunate enough not to have dealt with much since I was a teenager and it's a strange thing for me to juggle. I know I'm in safe hands with people like my other half, friends and my counsellor, but I thought I'd have a go at writing out how I felt to see if it helped. I may not publish this, but - and I'm telling myself this - it helped.
I don’t need to tell you to reach out and keep in touch with everyone, you’re capable of finding your own balance and it’s impossible to remain close with everyone at all times. But I wanted to write about what I’m feeling, because it’s helped me get it out and might help someone else too. We should talk about these things as freely as we do the weather.
So, here's to you Mike.
A few months ago I was starting to feel like I was nailing shoots, I'd had a run of gigs that I was really happy with and I’d started to get comfortable. I needed to push myself further, explore new mediums and concepts, make grand mistakes and feel frustrated, then battle through and find new ways to do things. So, I begun experimenting, focusing less on getting work through the door and more on what I can do next - opening doors to new styles, bold concepts, new ways or working, new equipment and even into the wide, scary depths of video.
Some things I've tried haven't gone well, and that means it's all going very well. I'm making mistakes and learning ten lessons at once, I'm pushing myself and people I'm working with and covering things I hadn't before. My first video with Shauna, for instance, is a start, but nowhere where I want it to be.
It's these explorations beyond what we already do that pushes us to find what we're capable of and more often than not, we let fear stop us doing that. Fear of failing, of being crap at it, of being judged or confusing ourselves - and that's healthy and it's good, we should recognise it and allow it to be part of our lives and our work, but we shouldn't let it stand in the way.
Embrace the fear and do it anyway. Find that new route, try something new, fuck it up and learn a load of lessons. The best creatives in the world are the ones that are constantly learning and consistently humbled because of it, taking nothing for granted and allowing themselves to grow as they move along.
At the end of September I'll be undertaking a project with an NGO called Indigo who are currently providing aid to Syrian refugees in Bosnia. I'll be joining them in Sarajevo for around three days and documenting both their stories and the stories of refugees receiving their much-needed aid.
This is super exciting for me; I can't wait to tell such a meaningful story, both through my lens and an accompanying narrative. I want to get to the human level of the crisis and explore how volunteers give up their time and energy to help people representing the biggest displacement of people in modern history.
The crisis effects us all so to have the opportunity to get under the skin and say something through my work is incredible. My aim is to provide a full report and package it up into an exhibition, but let's see how that goes.
The sheer bravery of people fleeing torture, death and suppression astounds me and if I'm able to tell 1% of their plight, I'd have done a grand job.
Ultimately we are all in charge of our own bravery and how much we decide to recognise fear and do it anyway. Whatever you're doing, if you feel like you're getting to a point of being really good, then take my advice and shake it up. You won't learn without the mistakes. And if you're grieving, then talk. Talk frequently, openly and as expressively as you like.