When to forfeit your journey ...and when to say "F#ck This!" and keep going.
I think there a comes a time when no matter how hard you have worked or how many hurdles you may have had to leap over to be where you are within your journey there comes a point when you are faced with the anti-synchronicity of your journey where you must ask yourself, "Maybe it's time to turn around?". Whether you had your iphone stolen by a Russian model at a private party, tripped over a unmarked sprinkler head and badly injured your foot, had your ATM card information fall victim of fraud by someone in the Philippines, or ran for your life after being chased after by a Madam in the red light district of Phuket, Thailand because your friend decided to get fresh for not wanting to buy another round of drinks to keep playing a pool game at a brothel... I confirm if you have ever experienced any of these incidents, then from my personal experience, I fully sympathize with you.
So, when do we tell ourselves enough is enough and throw-in the towel along with our pride? Unfortunately, this decision has always been a challenge for me. Growing-up in a "tough love" household by a single mother I was never allowed to be sick or sense pain. It was always, "take an aspirin! Go to school!". Don't get be wrong in some cases it's was a blessing I was conditioned this way, but in many ways it was also a curse. Being raised to ignore the physical pain allowed me to tap into the reality of a situation and apply my mental strength. But now, as an adult, I find that pride and pain can be a scaring combination, that if not recognized, you are forced to learn from the hard way.
During my recent solo excursion to Ireland, I encountered a handful of roadblocks that kept me from continuing my journey. On the day of my departure from London, the Underground train I was on had a 45 minute standstill delay, leading me to miss my flight and having to pay double to get on the next available one. Then, when arriving in Dublin, the $8/day car rental I had booked for 4 days to drive around Ireland ended up having massive amounts of hidden costs, like needing full insurance for being a foreign driver, leading my total rental cost to $330.00. The cost of this trip deeply started to eat away at my pockets as if they were a free buffet for a family of five. I questioned the cost of the journey. I clearly did not budget the additional costs and l had to make the decision, that If I were going to continue I was going to have to strictly monitor my expenses. Being an avid solo traveler, expenses (hotel, gas, car rental) tend to add up faster then sharing them with a travel buddy, but I was on a mission! The 'tough girl' voice in my head reminded me I wasn't going to give-up... and so I had to listen.
By day three, along with my penny pinching, gas station-snack dinners and a very uncomfortable night sleeping in my car rental wrapped-up in a pile of clothes on a pillow constructed of my camera bag...I had made it to one of my long desired destinations, Cliffs of Moher, located on the stunning Southern West-Coast of Ireland. I had decided to book myself a comfy stay in a $20/night highly rated hostel in Doolin, a cute little town a few miles North of the Cliffs (NOTE: Hostels in the country where there are mass amounts of exploration and adventure are always the way to go. You make friends with people who are there to do the same adventure as you are and swap advice and information with those who have already returned from your yet to come anticipated excursion). I only had a day to hike the rough and risky trail, The Burren Way, A two hour hike along the steep and unprotected cliff edge from Doolin to the Cliffs of Moher historical center. Unlike many of my other excursions, I came to Ireland to explore my roots very unprepared. Or shall I say, Ireland was unprepared for 'Kirgie'!
After dropping off my bag at the hostel I was ecstatic to get on the trail and start my solo excursion. About fifteen minutes into the trail the clouds started to swallow over the majestic Ireland sky and swallow the sun and the sky began to downpour like marshmallows from a box of Lucky Charms . As much as I love the rain (and marshmallows), being from Los Angeles, embracing the beauty of the rain in all forms is like Christmas morning...yet hiking along the edge of a 390 ft cliff wasn't exactly the ideal time to embrace it's beauty, but I gathered on. Battling mud and slush in my very non-waterproof sneakers, I pulled the waterproof cover over my camera bag and kept my eyes wide open at the trail ahead of me. No one was on the trail at that time and I clearly knew why. Conditions as I hiked higher along the trail gradually began to get worse. The rain started to feel like pellets flicking across my face and any attempt to take a photograph left my lens coated in raindrops. This was clearly NOT the adventure I had hoped for, although I can admit it was quite thrilling tackling all the elements in the moment. Even a slight close-call slip along the trail, where for a second I thought I may have twisted my ankle, couldn't stop me. I felt like I was in an action movie! And then, reality set in as I came across a divide in the trail. I stood at a stand-still, with my socks drenched with rain and my shoes sloshed with mud. To the left of me, a barbwire fence (clearly not a safety rail), to my right a 390ft plunge off the beautiful Ireland coast into the crashing waves of the Atlantic and in front of me a 3 foot gap. Now, I know 3 feet doesn't sound that big of a leap, but add the elements of rain and mud and you have the voice of reason shouting in my head "holy shit, maybe this is why there were so many hurdles to get here! Maybe this is my death? Maybe all those hurdles were signs to stop me from this moment? Maybe all these nasty conditions are happening to stop me from continuing? I should turn around. Maybe I should listen to all the signs." I was faced with the reality of making a big decision for the future of my solo journey. Cold, wet, muddy, alone, no one to hear me if I fall. I remember thinking, If I don't continue, what do I loose other then my silly pride and if I do continue, I risk my life. In that moment, as I looked down at the gap, a fire came over me. I raised my head to look up at the rain-soaked heavens, and I pointed my finger up at the sky shouting in my people-would-think-I'm-crazy-if-they-heard-me-talk-like-this-aloud voice, "I'm going to do this! I've come this far! And when I get to the top, you better bring that sun out so I can get a good picture!". And so, instead of forfeiting, found the slightest opening in the barbwire fence to the left of me that was just enough room for my hand, gripped it tightly, and with all the childhood dance class memories, I gracefully did my best ballet leap. Light as a feather, I made it! My whole body filled quickly with adrenaline, I knew my mission was not over, but it was a close call. Perhaps, it can also be classified as a "stupid decision", But I had a will and made a way. The rest of my hike was fueled with stunning cliff side beauty, crazy goats grazing along the steep edge and the constant sound of the ancient Gaelic waves crashing against one of the Earth's most beautiful masterpieces. As I reached my destination, I looked out over the ocean with a huge grin of accomplishment and there in the sky the clouds began to part so that the sun could shine through. It was magic, although the sunshine only lasted 5 minutes, I couldn't be more grateful for the experience.
Clearly, if it wasn't for my conditioning, I would have given up. But deep down inside I think it's because I genuinely love what I do and with that I must adopt all the glory and all the faults. You make the sacrifices and you swallow your wounds. Just as a musician needs to earn their calluses, just as a new doctor has to deal with loosing their first patient, just as baring a child scars a woman's body ... If you love it, It's worth fighting for.
I'm not going to tell you to risk your life for something, but I am going to share that everyone has a passion whether you know what that passion is or not. And if you do know, then do whatever it takes to fuel your passion.
So, before you feel like you are ready to forfeit your journey, ask yourself "Is this something I am passionate about?" ...and there you will find your answer.
Please follow my Instagram for more photos from my trip @kkirgan or by clicking here: http://instagram.com/kkirgan
Keywords: Cliffs of Moher, In the field photography, Ireland, Pro photography tips, a girl with a camera, adventure, female photographer, inspiration, kristin kirgan, passion, taking risks as a photographer, the burren way, travel, travel blog, travel photographer, travel photography risks, trekking, when you want to give up
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