This morning Dave Cornthwaite posted an introductory article on his Medium blog entitled Life is Not Like Instagram. In some ways it’s a response to the current trend of people pointing out how artificial social media can be – I think we all know now that the perfect “instant” photograph actually take a lot of time and effort to get right, and there are hundreds of slightly imperfect images that get discarded for each one that is actually shared.
In other ways this is a completely new way of looking at the whole perfect social media issue. Dave is going to share a new article every day over the next couple of weeks to give us all an insight into how his own life has been edited for social media, providing us with useful information that could help us a) motivate ourselves to a better life and also b) understand that we need to take off the rose tinted glasses every now and again. For those of you who don’t know, Dave is a full time adventurer, the founder of “Say Yes More” – a great community that encourages people do go ahead and have the adventures they dream of, and in the middle of a personal challenge to undertake 25 journeys of 1,000 miles in his lifetime. I look up to Dave, he inspires me, he lives the kind of life I quite fancy for myself, he is a great motivation and seems to care about other people making the most of their lives. To me he lives my own life is all about the journey mantra to the extreme, and I love that. I mean, I even bought one of his t-shirts!
Say yes more. The t-shirt. En route to Italy last summer.
His article really spoke to me and I felt the need to comment, but I wanted to make more of it than just a tweet or a quick comment on his Medium. For some reason it has completely taken over my thinking, possibly because I’ve been thinking a lot about ambition and creativity and travel and adventure and other things recently, and as a result you’ve got an entire written-at-lunch-time blog post as a response.
Over the last few years I have become filled with more and more admiration for people like Dave. And I completely blame social media for this. Without twitter and instagram I don’t think Dave, Sophie, Alastair, Sean, Russell and others would have been on my radar. Okay, maybe Sean, he’s been on the telly box a lot hasn’t he? But you know what I mean. I live up in Lincolnshire and we don’t have easy-to-attend talks and workshops from great adventurers here, and I can’t just pop to London on a Tuesday evening to hear them speak at a mountaineering store or artisan coffee shop. So social media is exactly what I need to discover and learn from those who are doing these amazing things with their lives.
These are people who live their lives full of adventure. They travel all the time. They have instagram feeds full of remote landscapes and mountains and oceans and views from aeroplanes. They make a living from talking about the amazing expeditions they have been on. I will openly admit that my heart has a touch of the green eyed monster when I read their blogs and look at their photographs. I want some of that. I want to be the person travelling the country, the world, experiencing something new every week, and then travelling around again telling everyone about it. I consider my every day full and busy and boring and tiring. I see what Dave and others have as being fun and motivating and happy and – well, just brilliant. Who can blame me for wanting it for myself?
(A side note about jealousy. I feel I need to add that my envy is me wishing these things for myself, not wishing that Dave et al can’t have it. It’s still a bit unhealthy I know, but I have no reason to want anyone to have less of the adventurous lifestyle.)
I am not completely naïve, though. I often wonder how they manage it. I know adventure is expensive. I know that there is admin work to be done whatever your line of work. I know that travel is tiring. I know you have to put in a lot of training in order to undertake any kind of expedition. I know that books take time and effort to write. I know that giving a talk takes a lot of preparation, and when you’re done there is almost always a long journey to get home. I know that the photograph with 30,000 likes on instagram was one of 300 taken and took an hour of post-production to get the sky just right, change the colour of your trainers and remove the rubbish bin from the background. But even with all that, the life that Dave has is still one that looks incredibly green – it certainly doesn’t look boring does it?
Sitting, pondering life and dreaming of adventure at the Grand Canyon a couple of years ago.
This summer, LincsGeek and I will be tasting a teeny bit of this adventurous life. Flying our motorbikes over to Vancouver and using them as our means to explore a little bit of Canada and the USA for ten weeks is certainly going to be our biggest adventure yet. A lot of people have asked me how we’ve managed to get the time off work and I always respond with something along the lines of “we’ve been lucky enough to agree a period of unpaid leave”. The unpaid bit is important. Yes, our employer (we work for the same organisation) has been very generous in allowing us the time off with the security of a job to come back to. That job security was vital for us as it has made the whole thing achievable. But we will not be earning while we are away. “You’ll not want to come back”… quite possibly not (I’m not even going to mention the Sunday night blues I’m anticipating!), but that isn’t an option – job security was vital because we will almost certainly come to the middle of July and be longing for the next pay packet. In order to make this trip happen we have had to look seriously at the bank balance, work out how much the mortgage and other bills will cost us while we’re not earning anything, and add that to the expected costs of the trip.
In order to have our trip-of-a-lifetime we’ve not only had to save lots of pennies, but we are also having to do a lot of planning, organising and paperwork. And that’s without setting a route or booking our accommodation until we’re actually there. I have a pet rabbit who needs a happy home for three months, have arranged house sitters, need all kinds of insurance and official papers – and this is just for a bit of a long holiday in a couple of friendly English speaking countries. This isn’t an endurance expedition in a war-torn area on a par with the things Dave gets up to! I am of course not complaining about any of this for one short second, but I think I am learning first-hand what Dave is talking about in his article, even if it’s just on a really small scale. Living the dream is hard work! And I am certain that using our time and money in this way will be the most “worth it” thing we’ve ever done.
Sometimes life IS like instagram. Some places really are that beautiful. We just have to make the time and effort to go there. But that’s another blog post entirely!
I know Dave isn’t planning to put us all off adventure or living a travelling lifestyle. He isn’t wanting to encourage us to push our ambitions aside in a delete-all-social-media-accounts-and-never-comment-on-a-photo-again-while-sobbing-loudly-in-your-bedroom kind of way. I don’t think so anyway! But rather he wants us to understand that life, all lives, are made up of highs and lows. It’s how you deal with those highs and lows that turns into happiness or unhappiness. Maybe my – your – busy and tiring full-time office job isn’t all that different from these people to whom we look for inspiration? Maybe I am not too many steps away from living my life the way I really want to? Maybe all this “choose happiness” stuff has some truth and actually works. Maybe the Sunday night blues are my own fault?
Anyway, I guess what I’m saying in this ramble is go and read Dave’s article. And then read each one as he posts them over the coming days. I suspect we will all learn something. I hope we will all better informed on how to go about making our dreams a reality – a few of the topics he’s promised us look super interesting. Maybe we’ll even have more motivation to make the most of the little moments to make our lives as awesome as possible. Life is not like instagram. Life is all about the journey.
PS: Living life as per my mantra is one of my goals and challenges for the coming year. Read them all here. And make sure you’re following me on instagram... my feed is my life in pictures, and I promise to not be anywhere near perfect!