Last weekend I turned twenty nine. I've never been a fan of birthdays. I don't really like the idea of an ordinary day with added fuss. Sadly, I share the same opinion when it comes to christmas and other "holidays". I've never really been a fan of birthdays since losing my father. I remember when I turned eighteen, my mother gave me a card without his name on it. Just hers and our dog at the time, Ruby. It put a whole new swing on things. Who was I to look forward to a day dedicated to my arrival in the world? What made me so special? Why should everyone take the time out to acknowledge this day?
Ever since that day I have kept birthdays fairly quiet. I quietly withdraw into myself and reflect on my life as a whole. This usually comes in the days prior or after the date. The actual day is spent either working or trying to match the efforts of those doing something special to help celebrate. Though it all sounds fairly negative, I do like knowing it's a reason to be surrounded by my favourite people, food and good conversation.
Last Sunday I woke up fairly late. My usual post birthday mood was in full force. With Abi working in her studio I decided to spend the first day of my twenty ninth year being creative. I bagged up my gear and set off in the car. Usually I have a pretty solid idea of where I want to go and what I want to shoot. Sunday was different. I was pissy and decision making wasn't at the top of my priorities. So rather than bitch about it I took it as an excuse to try something new. A coin toss. I'd pick a road, follow it and decide whether to go left or right at the end using a coin. Heads for right. Tails for left.
Before the first coin toss, I was secretly hoping it would land on heads so I could cross the border and make my way up to the Cotswolds. I've never been and have had it on my list for a long time. Instead I landed my self a tails. So I went left and joined the M4 and headed west. Though being slightly bummed I pulled a tails I stuck with it and decided it was for a reason. Another coin toss for a better result just seemed pointless and bratty.
I followed the motorway for the first time in a while. I've never really been a fan of the hollow buzz that slowly grinds away at you on these types of road. Nor the fact I just feel in the way and forced to keep pace with everyone. You've heard all of this before I'm sure.
Close to an hour in, I had just passed Swansea and another big turning point was approaching. Heads would be the A483 towards the national park and more rural areas. Tails meant following the A48 and continuing west. At this point the quieter roads were calling me and I was desperate to get away from the national speed limit in hopes of slowing down to take it all in. Nope. Tails. Twat. At this point the weather was shit. Dark clouds were gathering and the rain was slowly making its way up the roads ahead. This was thinking time. It triggered a trail of thought that would follow me all the way home. What was I doing? What was the point? Finally, did any of it really matter?
With every birthday past, I cant help but feel I'm not quite on the right road. I often spend hours thinking of what life could have been if I had stuck with previous jobs or at least just paid a bit more attention in school. Maybe I'd be a head chef trying for my first Michelin star. A signed musician. A writer. A teacher. Maybe something a little more than what I am now. Who knows?!
I struggle to understand whether or not I am lazy or just a free spirit. Did I not listen in school because I couldn't be bothered or because deep down I knew I was destined for something different to what was on offer? Same with work. Did I not dig that little bit harder just because it didn't excite me or because I lack commitment and drive.
I've always seen myself as a wonderer. A bit of an outsider. I seem to dip in and out of situations as I see fit. I don't know any other way. As soon as the walls seem to be growing higher than my chin I like to move on. I don't like the idea of anything clouding my view on life. Purely down to my own curiosity. I like to keep one eye on the horizon. I like the idea of touching things that lay far in the distance. Be it physical or metaphorical. Dreaming big and doing something less traditional keeps me excited and inquisitive.
As much as I love this way of thinking, it is often over shadowed by doubt. Maybe a little bit of guilt. I can't help but wonder what my father would think of the way I travel through life. Have I got it right? Taking time out to live rather than running the rat race. Or am I just a waster with a flowery way of looking at things?
With all this running through my mind I had completely stopped caring about the out come of the coin tosses. They were mere breaks in thought to assist in longer roads to think on. Before I knew it I had followed new roads, old roads and the odd rat run to reach Newgale. I'd taken no notice of the journey or the fact the rain was now far behind.
I used to travel out to the west years ago when I had my camper. I'd follow the smaller roads all the way out to Newgale and then follow the coast roads all the way to Fishguard. I'd stop at almost every place in between. Solva, St davids, Whitesands, Abereiddy, Porthgain and smaller places whose names escape me. This was like a pilgrimage for me. It would reach a certain point in the month and I'd have to head out again. Even if it was to put my feet in the sea or park up for five minutes. That route is my place to escape. To return home feeling centred and clean.
With all that being said, I really love the idea of life, nature or something bigger than me taking me there because of a coin toss. As if something knew I needed to think and have a clear out and this was the only place to do it. Again, I may be a waster with a flowery way of looking at things BUT! I sure as hell won't change it if it means things like this would cease to exist.
I've decided that I should keep that previous thought and make it my own. I still feel guilty when I see everyone around me working their guts out to make ends meet. But thats their path. It's not mine. I get the feeling that I'm only just beginning in life despite being later to the game. I may seem irresponsible in comparison to those who are in a more structured life, but I'm learning some valuable lessons along the way. It feels as if though I'm learning the value of this life, after taking it for granted in my earlier years. I'm glad its happening now rather than later in life. I'm a lot happier knowing I'll be grinding away with work till the end, because I'll have finally learned something from life to use as a tool in my work. Again, that may be backwards when compared to working hard from the get go. Climbing life's long ladder and then having a few good years to reflect back on everything doesn't appeal to me. I don't trust myself to believe that I'll be happy figuring it all out towards the end. I'd rather do it all while I'm moving and cease from this life with a firm grip on what it had to offer.
Who knows if I'm right or wrong, I'm just going to go with it. It's just life after all right? I guess we'd be foolish to take it too seriously?!
It felt good to be out west again. There is definitely something there that makes my heart beat a little harder. I always feel at home amongst the rugged coast line and the areas surrounding it. It's one of my many dreams to grow old there. To wake up and still admire the views and the memories made within them, hopefully having made a positive effect on those met along the way. What I really love about being out there though, is the time it gives you to think. Just a good view and plenty of time to straighten out any kinks. I feel the journey west is a time to bring all the worries forward. Arriving gives you perspective. Staying for a while makes sense of everything. Then travelling home is spent pondering what you've just done and why you were ever worried in the first place.
With that being said, I am so grateful to be granted the ability to do such things. I have the most understanding wife who understands my constant need to follow unconventional paths. I will forever cherish her for that alone, despite having so many other amazing things to her name. I hope that one day all of this wondering will have paid off and I will have set a course to a richer life for us both.