Jun 12, 2013

3 Life Lessons From the Road

Last week I took a road trip down the west coast of the USA and it was the best thing I have done for myself this year. Going from Seattle where I had an amazing time at CreativeLIVE down through Portland to Highway101 along the entire coast of California. The time off from work was much needed, but this trip was far more than a vacation. On my journey I rediscovered myself and learned some important life lessons.

I am going to share with you what I learned along the way and why I will be taking trips like this one every year. Alone.

Enjoy some pretty pictures, all taken with my iPhone.

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Sometimes You Can’t Pass the Problem, Let it Pass You.

Driving down Highway 1 along Big Sur is a breathtaking experience. The view is phenomenal and the road is one long stretch of curves. For someone who loves to drive fast like myself, this was heaven.

I took it upon myself to ignore all those signs that tell you to take a curve at 35MPH, and even made it a challenge to see how much faster I could go. I was having a great time blatantly disregarding the speed limit when I was met with an RV going 15MPH less than the speed limit. Passing is not really an option on this road, and the fact that I now had to follow the slowest car in the world was starting to piss me off. All I wanted to do was get around them or force them to speed up.

I decided to do something completely different, I decided to stop my car, get out and take in the scenery. All of the sudden instead of my enjoyment being based around driving recklessly, I was enjoying the amazing view that I was in such a hurry to race past. My point of view completely changed, and it no longer bothered me that somewhere up the road there was an RV going 15MPH.

I took a while to enjoy Big Sur and then got back in my car to head south. I was still going to drive fast, but this time the RV was well out of my way and I was able to go at my own pace again. I didn’t pass the problem, I let it pass me.

Sometimes in life you will be met with a problem that is out of your control. Take a break and enjoy life, the problem could pass you by.

You are Small

You are much smaller than you think you are, and your impact on this world will be much less than you think.

I had always heard of the redwood forests, but to be honest I was not prepared for how they would affect me. I have spent much of my life traveling, and I can say without a doubt that this is the most beautiful place on earth I have ever been.

The pure scale of these trees is unbelievable and you can’t help but to feel insignificant in the middle of it.  In that moment the universe comes together and you understand that you are part of something much bigger than yourself.

This was church to me.

Some of these trees have been around before Christ walked the earth, and will outlast everyone reading this. In another part of California, Bristlecone Pines live to be over 5,000 years old.  Our lifetime is just a blink of an eye to these trees.

In the world of smart phones, Twitter and Facebook where everything can change in the blink of an eye it is important to remember that in some places of the world things don’t change. Don’t look for meaning in a piece of technology that will be obsolete in 6 months, look to something that has remained unchanged for thousands of years.

Our time on this planet is short, enjoy what little time you have by filling your life with the things that make you happy. Visit the redwoods before you die, they will help you to remember what is important in life.

On Vs. In

There is a big difference between working on and working in. Let’s take a business for example. Working on your business includes things like creating goals and planning the future of your company. Working in your business includes things like answering emails and making a product. In general upper level managers work on a business and lower level workers work in a business.

The problem that most small business owners (photographers) face is that they don’t have enough staff. This means they are working as both the manager and an employee. There is so much to do working in their business that they never take time to work on their business.

Getting away from it all means you don’t have the ability to work in your business.  You can’t exactly answer emails in the middle of the redwood forest. This will free up all of your time to work on your business, one of the most valuable things you can do. I am not saying that you should spend your vacations working, but you will probably find yourself solving problems that you wouldn’t have if you didn’t take the time off.

If you are not spending time to work on your business or life, you are not growing. Now is the time to get out there and figure out what you really want to do with your life. Take some time off work, I promise it will be there when you get back.

Try going on the trip alone, it helped me see life in a new way and allowed quiet reflection time when I needed it.

Go searching for nothing and find yourself, I will see you on the road.


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    Cody Ash

    what a great blog post. beautiful pictures Aaron! I’m always impressed at what my iphone can capture, it’s always handy when you don’t have gear. Great for a relaxing vacation such as this.

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    Juan Raphael Prieto

    I too had a very spiritual experience standing under those redwoods. I felt so small both in time here on this planet and in my ability to make a difference and leave something behind. Look into Olympic national park in Washington and Mount Rainer. I think they are some of the most beautiful places I have seen. Might make for a good trip next time you do a Creative live workshop.

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    Logan Zillmer

    Great message. My wife and I took that same trip from Seattle down the coast. It was life changing for me as well.

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    Thank you for sharing this. I hope you can hold on to this feeling much
    longer. Also it is really true what you said about working as employee
    and manager at the same time when you’re a photographer. I face this
    problem all the time.

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    Talyn Sherer

    I totally had this same feeling a few years back when I was hiking through Coyote Gulch in southern Utah. The greatness that surrounded me was a slap in the face to how insignificant all of life’s problems really are. When you’re in the middle of an environment that is so large and unchanged by the nature of your personal issues you start to put things into perspective. This is my image that I took representing that feeling.

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    Scott Robbins

    I’m glad you feel the way you did about your trip. I’ve been going to that area of CA every year for the past 10 years and every year I feel the same way. People always ask why we still go. If you force yourself to just stop and look whats around there you’ll always be amazed. Route 1 is really fun to drive on 🙂

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    Jaime Medina

    Aaron, do you use any iPhone app to edit your photos? Amazing pics by the way… and a very valuable lesson you just wrote. Patience, get a hold on things that really matter and above all, rise. Congrats!

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    I love this. It is remarkable what a long road trip will do to our worldview. Glad you had the opportunity to stretch out and take all the beauty in. The 101 is a wonderful place to do it. Hope Portland treated you nicely also. Otherwise, I might have to give her a stern talking-to. 😉

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    Barnia Scruggs

    I think you have hit on something that we seem to ignore these days, the presence of God and His creation. I am not talking religion here, just the simple presence of “awesome”. We spend our whole lives rushing to and fro, never really understanding the reason or purpose we are here. Once we slow down or “be still”, as scripture tells us, we discover the real world around us and realize that we are small. We experience that “oneness” with our environment (even when driving fast around the curves). I tend to believe that the more we embrace God and His creation, the better artists and photographers we become. I think we start to feel more, care more, and, through our talents, strive to reveal more about the wonderfully beautiful world within which we live and become the individuals we were meant to become.
    Thanks for sharing, Aaron, I needed the reminder.

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    Scott Micale

    Great post Aaron! Really does make me want to do this. So stressed out with my job, family life, mortgage, etc. Looking so forward to our family trip in August. I will make sure I take in the beauties of Destin, FL and appreciate God’s creations!

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    Danielle T.

    Wow, Aaron! Your small bit on the Redwood Forest gave me chills. Very happy that you were able to share this experience. Thank you!

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    My best tip for up and coming photographers is have your ready to go. If you see something and think “that would look cool as a photo.” bring out the camera and snap the shot, because you never know if you’ll have an opportunity again.