Wednesday, December 22, 2010

More than just a trip, more than just a holiday

Taking seven months off to travel was more than just a holiday. The experience itself was great and yes it was artistically refreshing. When we take holidays of a week to a month, we are having a break from our normal life, but afterward, we return to that normal life. But taking a longer break, means an opportunity to re-evaluate life, and to make some fundamental changes.

I think that I have already mentioned that I am not going back to commercial work, I am going to focus on my personal work. But this trip enabled me to see why this is important, to let me know what my priorities are. Work, in exchange for money, enables a person to live in society. But somehow, life nowadays is about earning more and more money to buy things we do not really need. But what is important is our relationships, the people around us. And if I can have enough money to live, then my priority is not to accumulate more material things, but to nurture relationships, to build bridges. This understanding is what gives me the clarity to reject commercial job offers and focus on work and activities that will help me understand living better and share experiences with friends. Since I came back, the only shoot I have done was publicity photographs for my friend Juliet, not because it was a commercial job, but because it is an opportunity to share an experience with her.

On my journey, I naturally walked a lot and became fitter. I also started doing crunches regularly during the trip and added push ups when I was in London. I did all this because my diabetes was becoming harder to control. My medication was increasing but my blood sugar levels were not good for my age. With the exercise I started on my journey, it has helped my blood sugar levels a lot.

In the last six weeks of my journey, I was in London helping my father who just had a stroke then. I was not able to exercise as much as I did during my journey, but I was told of doctors who are recommending low carbohydrate diets to help keep diabetes in check. I tried exercising as much as I could in London, and I also tried the low carbohydrate diet. Together, I continued to be able to keep my diabetes in check.

Back in Singapore, I bought a good bicycle and I cycle several times a week alternating with strength training days of crunches and push ups. And with some advice from my doctor, I have increased my carbohydrate intake a little so as not to loose muscle. But I am now actively taking care of my health.

I think a lot of us living the city work life know that we should make changes to our lives for our own good. But with the work and the stress, it is hard to make a life style change. We do not have the energy to make that exercise or diet change. And with so many things on our minds, we do not 'see' the need for that change. And this is why the long journey was more than a holiday for me. With the time and energy given to me on the journey, I was able to make major life style changes which I hope will keep me healthier for the remainder of my life. And the time to think about life has also given me the understanding to commit to the changes I have made.

In the coming year, I wish all my friends the opportunity, time and space to re look at what is important in their lives and find the energy to make long lasting adjustments in their lives that will make their lives better.