I recently had the honor of seeing one of my favorite bands perform at a small Sunday gathering hosted by The Great Company. Between songs, Alex Hwang of Run River North stopped to share his thoughts on music and artistry. I've spent the last few weeks and months chewing and wrestling, only to discover now, as I write this post, why his words made such an impact on me.
Artistry is such a unique thing of the world, one that I'm still completely unfamiliar with. The frustrating thing is that I'm beginning to realize that this may be the eternal struggle. An artist never finds the end to his or her problems or concerns, and it's in the process within that plight that results in our best coming forward.
But what I learned from Run River North that night is that as an artist, you have no control over what happens to your creation once it leaves your mouth and/or your hands. How it's interpreted, how it's received, and how it impacts and affects a person isn't completely within your hands. More importantly, it shouldn't be the focus.
That lesson however, as serving and thoughtful as it was and has been, wasn't what impacted me. What I realized today is that I never considered myself an artist. I've only considered myself a fan.
As most young adults in their mid-twenties. I've been spending a lot of time exploring and reconciling past memories. I've been searching, asking questions, looking for language to help me understand who I've become and perhaps shape who I'm becoming. And throughout moments in my life, I recall humble memories of childhood bravery. Glimmers of unapologetic expression of honest vulnerability, then overshadowed by pressures of society.
I've been wrestling a lot. Days have been stressful and anxious as I struggle to find where I fit and belong in this world. I realized I never committed myself in identity to being an artist. I always allowed the voices of those braver to speak on behalf of me. I look back into my childhood: scribbling poems on my xanga, singing on guitars, replaying my audio journals on my brothers tape recorder. I ask myself if I'm half the man I was as a child.
More recently, I returned from a year-long adventure around the world. I look back and I realize that I spent whatever I had, raised all I needed, and drove myself as deep into debt as I could in regards to my credit limits (which isn't a lot) just to find a moment.
The image above is the picture that changed my life. I look back and I know now, this image was that moment.
It's the photo I keep coming back to, and it's the one that means the most to me.
Despite the lack of story or drama behind it, I realize it doesn't matter. And like most things in life, it's better to preserve joy in simplicity. This moment changed me, and I was fortunate enough to have captured it perfectly and technically. And every time I press down on the shutter, I compare that millisecond to the happiness and anticipation that I felt when I snapped this.
Sifting through these old raws, I realized I only shared a fraction of what I had because I focused on the reception of them. Thinking through my past, I find deep and provoking words unspoken, words and moments subjugated under the courage of other men and women. I hid, and found refuge and comfort in their journey to express the best parts of themselves: their humanity.
2016 is the year dedicated to the child I neglected for so long. It's the year of middle fingers to public perception, and social acceptance. I feel as though that the only way that I can progress forward is by giving a voice to my past, and shedding light on places I was ashamed.
I'll start with what's in front of me: my travels. I hope you like the images. I hope they move you and take you somewhere like they take me back to mosquitos, humidity, food-poisoning.
And if you don't... Well, it's practice for me not to give a damn.
Cheers to closing off chapters, finishing well even if it's finishing late, and dusting off your feet and continuing this journey through life.
The shoes you wear through life won't always be the same, but neither will the paths you take.