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The Big Decisions

The Big Decisions

Daniel Wildey
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I've just quit my job to go and live in a van.

I've flirted with adventure for too long, I've toyed with making it my life, I've gone as far as I can go from a rented room in Cumbria.

I could never have been a professional athlete.  Not only am I not good enough, but the training and the dedication required seem like a cage to me.  I crave variety - is that not what adventure is about?

But I do admire that dedication, and like millions of people I am inspired by the result of total commitment to a goal.  As an adventure photographer I get to channel that inspiration like some kind of messenger translating the wild achievements of some into the dreams of others, and up until now it's been a vicarious life.  But I need it to be my life; like an scientist studying sharks, a time comes when you have to dive in with them.

On the other hand, I could never be a genuine dirtbag.  For all my love of the unknown, I've still never committed to photography enough to give up on the regular payslip of a 'normal' job.  But I'm about to.  I'm about to stop paying for a roof over my head, and myriad utilities, and replace them with a wooden board in the back of a van, a big bottle of Calor gas, and a curiosity about what's down the road.

I've written on this blog before that you should photograph what you love, but I'm going to take that a step further and photograph what I live. Climbers often talk about risk, commitment, dedication.  This is my equivalent; throwing all my eggs into one roofbox.

The process has made me think a lot about the parallels between the exotic, adventurous lives of those athletes we read so much about, and the lives of the everyday climbers.  Pete Boardman compared endurance in the mountains to what it takes to bear the drudgery of the 9-5 and then draw on all your reserves to get out and climb at the weekend.  I think this applies to commitment as well as endurance; professional climbers are paid to train and to climb, and while their focus is impressive it pales in comparison to those who train every night after work, or those who can find the energy to plan and raise funds for an expedition during their 3 weeks of annual leave.

So perhaps quitting my day job is the opposite of commitment?  But it still feels like risk!  I've balanced two lives for years, and it's taken hard work. The bigger risk is that I don't immerse myself in what I love, that I allow myself to remain tied to the security of a 'normal' job.

So there, I've managed to justify this irresponsible impulse!  Whatever it is it feels necessary, like an irresistible pull, and I look forward to sharing it with you over the coming months; the adventure of a lifestyle.

Daniel Wildey is the photographer behind much of the imagery on our website and the voice behind several pieces on our blog.  The energising effect of being entirely in your own hands is something we know well and we wish Daniel all of the sun-baked rock, sunsets, starry skies, open roads and sublime camp fires that this adventure will bring.  

You can follow his progress here.

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