A member of my cabinet once asked me, what do you do? Without hesitation I uttered the word, learner. If there’s one thing I’ve learned these past few years, I remind myself to always show up, shift my perspective in order to learn something new and to always strive to be better. For some people what they do is defined by their role at home, at work or in a social setting. For others, they are defined by their surroundings, their past, their fears, or their childhood. What you allow to enter into your stratosphere is well beyond the boundaries of who you truly are and as I have learned, encapsulates you with the challenges of what is conventional. The institution we belong to has built an invisible wall but it’s what you do with these walls and the process of not giving up and breaking through these walls that makes this journey all the more exhilarating. Don’t get me wrong, the process of learning to kick down these walls took some serious willpower, and inner strength. In my darkest hours the overwhelming feeling of anxiety paralysed me and at times, I felt like I had run to the ends of the earth trying to break down conventional boundaries, collapsing countless times along the way.
I’d like to believe destiny has brought me to where I am today. A destiny not so much a desire but a necessity. The institution we belong to was never one to openly accept the social discussion of feelings, anxiety driven behaviour and the acceptance of vulnerability as a manifestation of courage. The journey in which one takes to overcome anxiety, whether it be seeking professional help or walking away for a brief moment spiritually is somewhat of a taboo topic of discussion. It’s not necessarily frowned upon but viewed from a distance and tackled with carefully chosen words. Such experiences and influences run deep into my past and whilst those that know me are aware of my cautious and guarded demeanour when it comes to my experiences, I am beginning to find comfort through different mediums and find myself opening up to shaping the ever evolving “me”. If we are to come face to face with the brutal truth, it is loss that brought me here today and I continue to discover new depths, face anxiety and kick it in the ass, demonstrate vulnerability, regain strength and practice gratitude through the process of learning. I’ve come to the realisation, what I have gained far outweighs what I have lost.
My father passed away in 2016 but he continues to teach me to this day and for that, I am eternally grateful. He never set boundaries and never adhered to the institution. He challenged what was conventional and forged new ways of living, all whilst maintaining an overwhelming sense of resilience and dignity. Over time, I have become the embodiment of his inner strength and resilience and he has become my inner voice of humility and gratitude. Without realising it at the time, he handed me a piece of learning apparatus that would become my tool to capture life, to freeze a moment in time, to view the world in ways the naked eye could never see and tell a story left untold. Most importantly, it has become a healing apparatus for me and a means to discover new dimensions of myself. One that I take with me wherever I go as a tool that allows me to escape for a brief moment, to enter another world when crippled by feelings of anxiety that are beyond my control.
My father is the one who put a camera, a healing tool, in my hand more than 20 years ago. I knew nothing at the time, but I didn’t shy away, and with his gentle nudge forward, I began to exercise my rudimentary skills around the visual art form. After my father’s passing, his voice continues to run loud and clear. “Keep trying. Have a good one!” His legacy has given me strength to carry on, to move forward and to continue to learn through this peculiar thing we call life.
Kaizen started as a means of self-therapy but has quickly become a personal philosophy, a way of being. A way of healing. A sharing platform. Kaizen marks the beginning of what I hope to be a life-long expedition of finding the courage to face every emotion, overcome anxiety, seeking new experiences and uncovering old experiences that now take on a whole new meaning. The learning begins with a search for what cripples me, what inspires me, what ignites the fuel inside and what shapes me into the person I continue to evolve into. This may not be a tangible concept at first and I’m sure I’m going to continue to screw up along the way but I’m learning to forgive myself. I’m not perfect, no one is (thankfully) but I’ve learned to love the imperfections and celebrate them. I celebrate our differences, our shared and differing values. For these are the roots of where we begin to learn, grow and live with empathy. I can’t think of a better way to share this but here. Right here, right now.
Welcome to Kaizen.