All those magical places, awaiting to be seen. All those breathtaking moments, awaiting to be lived. Every feeling that makes you want to scream “I’m alive!”, from the bottom of your lungs and heart, that awaits to be felt. That, is “the great outdoors”.
And yet, we often find the world that we live in, far different from that, with the indoors, many times looking an awful lot more appealing. I guess the beauty of waking up at 5:00am just to see the glorious sun rise from the ocean, is not for everyone – even thought it was meant to be. The terror and the excitement we feel, when standing on the edge of the cliff, is not enough for us to commit, and climb the mountain – just to push the summit a bit higher. Watching people do ordinary stuff, differently or identically, to the way we do it, and trying to put ourselves in their shoes by trying to image living their story, sounds pointless, if not weird, to the most.
Any challenge of seeing, feeling, trying, and eventually living, is not worth taking the risk anymore… But it takes courage and kindness. It takes an urge coming from deep inside, to explore the unknown – both internal, and external. It takes respect for the beautiful and terrible things life can be. And just the ones equipped with these values, will get to not only look, but really see the world. Their world.
The three faces of routine
The ‘bad’, this unproductively repetitious passing of days, weeks, months. Things are not going good and the horizon looks foggy, but hope is still not lost. Some of us will turn up to God for help. Others who appear to be prone to addictions, are not to reach their break point just yet.
The ‘ugly’ is simply the stage when one finally loses their end of the Mitos of Ariadne, and surrenders after the realization of being alone inside the maze of life with the Minotaur of their own mind. Caring about the ‘bad’ face of reality stops, as feelings and thoughts, cede their position to a progressively growing void. During that time, extensive hours of sleep are a piece of cake even for the most – once upon a time – sworn overthinking individuals. The mood is usually at the highest or the lowest end, and a silly comment is able to either cause uncontrollable laughter, or a rage burst. This stage extends to…
…The ‘good’. Either at the form of a bounce point from the bottom of the pit (‘bad’), or as a nostalgic vibe in a shitstorm of reality (‘ugly’), the mind finds a place to (day)dream, create, and therefore, become free. Time and space lose their original meaning and eventually get distorted, creating a fake but lifelike feeling that this experience is lasting forever – when this experience ends, one gradually regains sense of time, realizing that it hasn’t been that long since the beginning of it.
After one, or more, similar experiences, inspiration might strike, a chance given by the universe itself, or maybe imposed by the freedom of our own minds, to escape this vicious circle. Otherwise, routine-loop follows.
Kids playing outside, at Ueno Onshi Park, during a sunny day, in Tokyo. July 2019
Konstantis Alexopoulos/National Geographic YourShot
This moment had touched me, already before I captured it. I remember that day I was wandering around at Ueno Park, after my visit at the Tokyo National Museum, when I saw three young boys trying to climb a tree. I liked the composition of the frame, so I lifted the camera to my eye, placed my index finger on the shutter-button, and clicked a ‘test shot’. As I was correcting the settings, I noticed this girl running around. When she saw me too, she stopped in her tracks. As she stared, I felt as if her eyes would penetrate my skull, giving her access to every single one of my thoughts. It was then when I realised that no one can actually hide from kids – they will always be there, looking. No one can fool them – children will have the rest of their lives to remember.
The two seconds she gave me, before she abandoned my frame, transforming from a cosmic messenger back to a kid again, were almost over. I took the shot.