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purpose

Life’s Precious Moments

There were a lot of changes in my life over the past one month. On the 1st of May, while en-route on a company trip to Club Med, I got the news that my mom was struggling with her last breath at home. It was over WhatsApp that I said my goodbye to her. She was 81. Her death did not come as a surprise, because the month before that, my sister and I were going in and out of hospital, trying to rescue her infected toe that was turning into gangrene. Towards the last few weeks of her life, she had a lung and bladder infection, and the doctor basically just told us to be prepared.


My mum, looking very hip then! And the photo below was taken with my dad years ago when he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Read a bit more about his journey here.

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Why photos are important in daily life

It’s in the little moments. Those moments that we so easily forget within a year, a week or even a day. But it’s not just about capturing the moments. It’s about remembering the happiness that relationships bring. Photography helps you remember why you married your spouse so many years ago. It helps you remember those tiny little feet that brought a swelling to your heart the moment she was born. It even brings to mind that ‘slightly ugly family couch’ you lounged on years ago till your parents decided to finally buy a new one.

Sometimes we are caught up with the routines of daily life and hardly have time to reflect on things that bring us the greatest joy. If we are true to ourselves, we will acknowledge that real connections with the people most precious to us makes us happy. If we can just capture snippets of life with these people, and reflect on these memories when life throws us a hardball, we will begin to remember that feeling.

With the launch of new and better camera phones yearly, it’s no surprise that photography is pretty much a natural habit. But most of the time, we have snippets of so many memories taken without us being part of the picture. This is where I challenge you to include photography as part of your yearly personal budget… not viewed as an expense, but as an investment towards your future. You are building an album filled with happy memories.

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Let your life speak

An excerpt from “Let Your Life Speak” by Parker Palmer

I must listen to my life and try to understand what it is truly about… That insight is hidden in the word vocation itself, which is rooted in the latin word “voice”. Vocation does not mean a goal that I pursue. It means a calling that I hear. Before I can tell my life what I want to do with it, I must listen to my life telling me who I am. I must listen for the truths and values at the heart of my own identity, not the standards by which I must live – but the standards by which I cannot help but live if I am living my own life.

As I was clearing through some old papers and files from my ever disappearing floor the other day, I came across my old journal writings. This excerpt came from a book I read years ago, when I was in the process of discovering myself and who I am. I remember thinking and asking questions like “Why am I on this earth?” and “What excites me about life?”

Ten years later – I think I have discovered my passion. Passion for people and for making a difference in other people’s lives. That’s why doing what I do now gives me so much satisfaction. But I am not at the end of my journey, I am still discovering myself, day by day. The day I lose excitement about life is the day I lose myself.

 

What does the heart seek?

I’m in one of those reflective moods again. Every now and then, I ponder about life, the meaning of it, and what is my purpose in this world. In the past, I’ve blogged about issues like these on my personal blog, but never on the Stories blog before. It’s always difficult to be open and vulnerable to others, but I do believe in being authentic.

I’m constantly busy. This year was a really hectic year for me, with the launch of Stories as a brand (wow, I can’t believe it’s been 8 months already!). In the midst of running a business, selling my house, traveling, buying a new house, renovating the new house… I hardly had time to breathe. But today, I had to take a moment to reflect. What am I working so hard for?

People say that it’s either one of these things that motivate you in life – money, fame, or a cause greater than yourself. If I am being completely honest with myself, I think I’d like to be well-known. I’d like to know that I am successful in my business. I want to shoot more, be excited about new projects, be a photographer in demand…

But all for… ? What?

What is the level of success?

What am I building?

It brings me great satisfaction to know that the work I produce brings so much joy to others. Part of my job satisfaction comes from knowing that I am building a legacy of images – records of people’s lives and a moment in history. Photography connects people. And I’m so amazed that I have been given this blessed opportunity to bring people together.

I guess I am reminded today that my purpose in life should never be solely about myself. In this quest for success, I must never lose my soul.

Children sharing a meal in Myanmar, taken during my travels in 2007.