Sunday, 5 August 2012

You only live once

So I woke up this morning after having had an amazing dream - Team GB had won 6 (six) gold medals on a single day, half of which were in one amazing evening of athletics. But then my sore throat assured me that, unless I had been screaming in my sleep, this had all happened for real! (Of course, there is always the question whether this waking reality is actually the dream and the things we dream about are our true existence - but that's something I'll explore in the blog I write in my sleeping world).

Mo Farrah was the main culprit for my husky throat - after being buffeted and blocked by some of the other competitors, streaking through to lead the final lap, is an image that will remain with me until I start to forget my own name and wander the streets in a confused state wearing just my pants.

It was fabulous to be able to share this euphoric experience on Twitter with the millions of other people watching the games. Tears of joy flowed as we all watched, transfixed by what is arguably the greatest evening of British sport ever witnessed.

After the cheers had died down and people tried to digest the unbelievable events that we had all just seen, a tweet with a certain theme started to emerge. Many people pointed out that the likes of Jess Ennis and Mo Farrah were genuine role models that our young people should aspire to be, rather than the likes of slack ladies who have slept with a premier league footballer or the vacuous star of a reality tv contest.

And who could argue with that? But of course, it is a far more difficult thing to achieve. Years of hard training and dedication are required on top of massive passion and hopefully at least some talent. Even then success is far from guaranteed - there can only ever be one gold medalist in each event at the games.

But of course, as anyone knows who have dedicated a large chunk of their lives to following a passion and doing all they can to fulfil their potential by working hard at a certain discipline, the winning isn't everything. The self respect and personal pride you earn for yourself by consistently trying your best will reap many rewards, even if the outside world never has the opportunity to witness your personal inner striving to maximise your skills.

Leading on from this, one of the mantras of the young and carefree nowadays is YOLO (an acronym for 'you only live once'). To me, the spirit of this saying is very much in keeping with maximising your potential and making the very most of your talents. Today though, in many circles it seems to have become a blanket excuse for reckless and shortsighted decisions, taken on impulse with little or no regard for the consequences.

If I could pass one piece of advice to the younger generation, it would be to embrace the spirit of YOLO fully, in the way that will bring you the most nourishing fulfilment. Jess Ennis, Greg Rutherford and all of our other top sportsmen and women have done this and are shining examples of what can be achieved if you are determined. If you abuse the gift that YOLO is trying to convey, it's entirely possible that at best, you'll end up appreciating what you had before as you now live with the consequences of an earlier rash decision.

Now, as you know this is predominantly a blog about photography, but so far it's hard to see a connection between what I've written and the pictures I take. But in fact there's a massive one. I think some of my favourite photographs I've ever taken are pictorial expressions of YOLO. They are celebrations of life - a split second still, representing the day being seized and life being lived fully and joyously.

Take this one for example:

This dear little fellow was one of the happiest creatures I've ever witnessed. Quite literally full of the joys of spring. Relishing his new found ability to swim and chase flies and even run on the surface of water. I hope that pictures of this kind touch that inner part of each of us that ignites our appetite for life. Even if we're not in the best of places right now, never lose sight that it is possible to reconnect with that exciting spark that is inherently in all of life.


  1. Wonderful post!
    Laura xx

  2. I also loved the subject in this post for the very reasons you've written here- the joy was most definitely coming across in your pics of him/her! :D xx