The harsh monotony of life has always bothered me. There is a simple way of living, and I’ve always wanted no part of it. The idea of waking up every day, going to a job that you hate, in order to earn money so you can pay for the house that you leave vacant all day just to afford living in it seemed to be such a waste of time.
The way people tell it, life is about waiting. A person waits to finish high school, then they wait to graduate university, they wait to get married, to have children, to buy a house. They wait for their children to move out, then they wait for retirement. It seemed that life’s moments were made up of waiting for the next big thing, until eventually, by cause of their own destruction, they were simply waiting for death, and life had passed them by without any major adventure.
I’ve realised that people may be alive in this world, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re living. I see people around me every day who appear to be wasting away just to make ends meet.
For the majority of my life, I couldn’t get rid of the gnawing feeling in my gut that I was in entirely the wrong place. I’ve spent a large part of my life trying to chase a feeling of belonging. All of this chasing has led me to the realisation that what many people are okay with labelling as ‘life’ is in fact the way that I would not want to live at all.
Although the society in which we live in thrives upon the dreariness of monotony, it also flourishes on change. I’ve always adored the art of photography. One of the reasons that I adore it is because while I’m behind the camera, I can capture anything. I can view the world differently and contain it within a second, the world in an inch of itself. That moment will never happen again, but once that shutter is clicked, I can look upon it forever. It is a language all in itself, which can be understood by everyone, no matter where they have come from. It will remain the same while the world around will completely change. And it will never be monotonous. These photographs are proof to me that although the world may seem tedious in its day to day existences, it is in fact altering so slowly that we are unaware of the occurrences at all.
Then again, maybe monotony is like the aspects of a city that to me seem so beautiful. A person who lives or works in the area would simply walk past without a second glance because they only see it as part of a whole image, even though these tiny details are what make up a place. And the tiny details of life are what makes up the whole. Perhaps, in the same way that sadness is needed in one’s life to understand happiness, monotony is also required to understand how beautiful change can be.
I have carried a camera with me everywhere I go for the past eight years of my life. I cannot shake the feeling that if I do not have one with me, that I may miss out on the best shot of my life. A break from monotony, but I wouldn’t be able to capture it forever. Anything can happen, because I have a way to document it.
As a story teller, I take care to only document the places I visit and photograph, and not alter it in any way, shape or form. Graffiti artists may come and go, but I am only there to document their work. The bones of an abandoned building are often on show. It is up to my photographs and my imagination to give them a voice and fill in the blanks. A man named Chief Si’ahl once said “Take nothing but memories, leave nothing but footprints”. I first heard this on a hike with a group of likeminded adventurous individuals, and my leader quoted the chief. He was encouraging us not to litter at the time, but it is now one of my primary life mottos. Others do the damage. I’ll do the recording.
I am not a tourist. Do not take me just to the money-making attractions that many cities put on show. I am a traveller, struggling against the roots of monotony that often attempt to hold me hostage. I want to be everywhere. I want to see the details of the places within this beautiful planet. Not only the picturesque, photogenic, postcard perfect side of a country, but also its history and culture and what the locals might call its ugliness, and by extension, its own monotony. But, I also want to be nowhere. In short, I want to be a ghost with a camera. Not interfering with the lives or the places that I photograph, and simply learning more about the culture and seeing the inherent magnificence of the places I visit.
As a writer, I find I always have a story in my head that I am systematically playing out as time goes by. But the second I attempt to translate it onto paper, the instant I try to write it down, it becomes a mess of letters and spaces and transforms before my very eyes into a demon of paper flesh. No matter how many metaphors or similes, no matter how much time I spend trying to make the dialogue sound anything less than forced, it breaks and bleeds before me.
Maybe if I were to go somewhere where no one knows my name. Somewhere against the breaks of monotony. Everyone dreams of Mount Everest and they ignore the simpler and smaller routes. They dream big and feel inadequate when they were meant to start smaller, with the simplest of details, surrendering to what may become a less monotonous form of existence.