Long story short - We quit our jobs, sold all of our possessions, and decided to travel to the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan and live here for at least a year. Fantastic!
The Real Story. (Accompanied by some of my work from 2014)
From the outside it may seem like it all worked out so easily. The truth is its taken a lot of blood, sweat and tears to get to this point! Countless evenings I would come home from work and vent for hours to Megan about how unhappy I was in my Software Development job and how I just wanted to do something I loved. I remember after the first 2 years, every year I would say..."Next year I'm going to quit. This will be my last year in an office job". Six years later and I was still there - although by then I was doing something about it.
How did I even get into IT?! I mean I grew up on Nature Reserves all over South Africa. I was extremely active. I loved the outdoors and adventure. I may come over as quite an easy going, happy go lucky guy and I am at heart. But I actually take life too seriously - way too seriously! I think way too much too. I even have a quote... "I think I think too much" - Dylan Haskin. haha
From when I finished school I started stressing about the fact I need to have enough money to pay for kids school fees. Seriously! That sense of responsibility got me to the mindset of "Go to college, get a good job with a stable income" etc etc.
Don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with an office job. I was very grateful for my job and the opportunities my salary brought were great. I liked the people I worked with and the company treated all the staff well. It was just not me. And the longer I did it, the more I felt it was not me. I felt like the life and the passion I had for life was being drained. My boss at the time had been working in IT for over 30 years. He had come out of an early retirement and worked for 2 years without being paid to start his company. He had a real passion for what he did. That's how it should be - It shouldn't be about the money!
"Follow your passion and the money will come"
I remember driving home from work and listening to an interview with Braam Malherbe and Pete Van Ketz about their race to the South Pole. Something that Braam said that really stuck with me was "Follow your passion and the money will come”. That statement was immediately added to my mental motivational playlist.
In late 2011 I realised more and more that photography was fast becoming my main passion. I had been shooting for fun for the past couple of years and then made a conscious decision to start giving it everything I have. Two years later, after working in what turned out to be two full time jobs and many Life Coaching sessions, I found myself in a helicopter flying along Transkei's wild coast shooting trail runners as they completed the 112km of their 3 day journey of the Wildcoast Wildrun. I almost pinched myself to check if it really was happening!
“You’ll never know if you don’t try” Goofy (from one of my childhood books I remember reading)
Things didn’t always work out as I hoped. In the beginning of 2013 I applied for Getaway’s ‘Travel Photographer’ position. I filmed myself talking (nonsense mostly :) ) about my previous experience in the hope it would stand out from the 100s of applications I expected they would get. Getting the call to come in for an interview blew me away! Out of the 200 odd applicants I survived all the way to the last round of interviews. Unfortunately though, the 1 in 4 chance I had was not meant to be and I didn’t get it. I remember saying during one of the interviews that if I didn’t make the cut it would only motivate me more to up my game and make sure I am able to do this as my career one day.
“Never, never, never give up” Winston Churchill
After telling people what we are doing we received so many different responses. "Wow thats so exciting!" "Where is Bhutan?!" "That's incredible, I would love to go there!" "Why would you want to go there?" "Isn't there malaria everywhere?" "Oh my friend has also been there. He said it was terrible. It’s in a big city - Bangkok I think"
"I wish I could do something like that!" That one always got me. The thing is you can - Just do it! We didn't fall into this situation. We made a plan. We thought about what we wanted to do, planned how to, and started doing something about it. It wasn't always easy...but it wouldn't have happened if we just wished it.
So where are we now? Well we did quit our jobs. Sold everything and left behind our comfortable lives. And we are now in Bhutan - The Dragon Kingdom. A small country nestled in the Himalayas. We didn't actually know where it was when Megan applied for a teaching job here. After some Skype interviews, tons of paperwork and a police clearance check, she got placed in Trashigang in eastern Bhutan. Me? Well before we left I had emailed some event organisers about possibly shooting some MTB, trail running and trekking expeditions. Everyone sounded very keen and would meet up with me when we arrived in Bhutan which sounded too good to be true. Everything was still quite up in the air until today. Today I met with Karma from the Bhutan Olympic Committee and well yeah… it looks like I’m going to be working with them on the media side of things!
I am so incredibly grateful for everything I have in my life - for my supportive family, friends and most importantly wife who have made the challenges far less daunting.
Here’s to a new chapter.
All made possible by the Grace of God.
PS. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is such an awesome movie!