I am writing this from somewhere above the Pacific Ocean, in a 747 hurling towards midnight on the other side of the world. In several hours, I will be landing in Singapore before catching the next flight out to Bangkok. After that begins a 16 hour journey deep into the heart of Laos, a trek that will take me by cab, bus, tuk tuk, boat, and foot. I’m hoping to make it to the border before it closes at 5pm, or I’ll have to find some place to spend the night.
Over the next 10 days, a Lao guide will be taking me up and down this country of dirt roads and forests and rice fields, through quiet old villages and ever-growing cities and everything in between. Should my pictures make it with me safely back to the States, they will eventually be used by several organizations for their promotional and sponsorship material.
I’m excited. Nervous. A little tired from the flight (and from not getting any sleep the night before!). And absolutely amazed at how different my life was a mere two years ago. It seems like a whole other world, when I would be sitting in a biotech instrument lab, running tests with assay plates and DMSO solutions and acoustic technology while the hours slowly drag by. Back then, all these places I am now visiting were mere names on a map, or pictures of faraway lands that were taken by other photographers. For more than 10 years, dreams of traveling the world had been a slow fire burning in my heart. There was this unexplained desire to visit places foreign and exotic, to see how the rest of the world lives, to step off the beaten track when possible. And now … here I am, actually living my dreams. It feels at once both surreal and so very ordinary. Surreal, because who would have thought that this quiet skinny kid would one day become some guy (still skinny, sometimes still quiet) who goes around taking pictures for people on the happiest day of their lives, or fly to foreign countries doing photoshoots for clients? And ordinary, not because it’s mundane, but because there’s a knowing that, Why yes, this is what I’m supposed to be doing. Why should I be doing anything else?
It was only a couple weeks ago when some new friends and I set off in the dark to hike up a nearby mountain in the Korean countryside. After tripping over rocks and crevices, getting lost along the way, scaring ourselves silly seeing flirting shadows and flickering lights in the dark forest, we finally made it to a pagoda, where we spent the next hour swapping stories and sharing a midnight picnic over candlelight.
That night, while lying in bed looking at the full moon through an open window, I thought back to the many years I spent stumbling through the college system, trying to find the right engineering major for me–because, well, I’m a guy, I’m Asian, I should be doing engineering (or lawyering, or doctoring), right? One year from graduating, it finally struck me that I don’t need to be an engineer, that I should be spending my life doing what makes me come alive. But what makes me come alive? It took several more years of searching before the answer found me. But once it did, it became like they say: “Life was never the same again.” :)
1) What are your deepest dreams? Do you want to start a business, lose 30 pounds, live in Paris, serve the poor, be part of a Broadway play? Do you want to become a millionaire, learn a new language, start a music studio, build an orphanage, backpack through South America? Does the thought of it excite you, inspire you, stir something deep within you? What makes you come alive?
2) Are you willing to do what it takes to live your dreams? Are you willing to sacrifice for it, make deliberate choices to attain it, work hard towards it? For the vast majority of people, their dreams will always remain that–dreams. But to change a dream into reality can require fighting through some of the toughest battles of your life, because in this world, there are no shortages of excuses and distractions and naysayers and competing priorities. It was not easy for me to end up where I am today, but I wanted it bad enough. Do you? :)
Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section down below or on facebook.
So … here’s to those of us with dreams to chase and dreams to live. May we all one day look around at our lives and realize, Why yes, I am living my dreams. This is what I’m supposed to be doing. Why should I be doing anything else?
* * * * * * *
For booking inquiries worldwide, or for more information about wedding photography in the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond, feel free to get in touch with us via our contact form.