“I began to realize how important it was to be an enthusiast in life. He taught me that if you are interested in something, no matter what it is, go at it at full speed ahead. Embrace it with both arms, hug it, love it and above all become passionate about it. Lukewarm is no good. Hot is no good either. White hot and passionate is the only thing to be.”
~ Roald Dahl, My Uncle Oswald
I was never the greatest at physical education at school. I always loved to be outside though and so I looked forward to the lessons that took me there.
As I got older the need to do something physical other than hang around street corners smoking with my mates was essential, and I found my niche when I started to run. I loved running—it was just me, my music and my breath and that was enough for me to escape—it was true freedom.
Last year, I began to notice running was becoming harder. I was out of breath more and had to continually stop as my heart was racing. Eventually I was shattered getting to the top of the stairs.
I got checked by the doctor and
I was diagnosed with Grave’s disease or chronic hyperthyroidism. The thyroid controls everything in your body and mine was on overdrive. In a nutshell my days of exertion were over, my body was in a permanent state of exercise and until I could get the disease into remission my lifestyle had to change.
The specialist advised me to cut out running and try a gentler approach such as walking or yoga. I had been so fit. Surely not. I always loved walking but in the mountains where I could challenge myself; my home county is flat and not very rugged or inspiring. I was used to doing so much more. It was going to be tough.
I was struggling though, physically and mentally. I did my research and by all accounts this was the way to go. So I began walking, every day. I took my camera for company for the first time in years to discover what I could capture. It was mainly to combat the monotony of the walk but I really started to look forward to going out.
I saw all the changes in the seasons and began to see a new beauty in the place I lived. With my trusty camera, instead of my walking being a plight for fitness, it was now a means of slowing me down, of making me stop to smell the roses. It had begun, my passion was aroused.
We went to Scotland on holiday and I couldn’t wait to be out in the open and get some amazing shots of the countryside and wildlife. As soon as we arrived, I took out my camera. It was so exciting to capture it all. We walked up Ben Nevis (highest mountain in Britain) and I got some fabulous photographs of the scenery. The whole time the camera had the effect of slowing me down to look around. but this helped as I couldn’t go fast anymore, because I was so easily fatigued.
More and more I was snapping, always eager to see new light or a different angle and perspective of a view I had seen before. Every weekend away or family event was an opportunities for a photo. I recently took some photographs of my nieces, a birthday present for my sister, and enlarged the print on canvas. She loved it and it was such a nice personal gift to give.
It’s been an eye opener for me. I liked photography as a child and even went to “camera club” at primary school, but I never thought this hobby would help me so much during such a stressful time and link me back to my love of nature. My disease is under control—as much as it can be—and I work full-time, so with it being winter and dark evenings upon us it’s not easy to get out. But it’s lovely to have a passion for living again and a real reason to head out of the door.
I now believe my illness pushed me in a direction I would never have taken. I thought I had lost my ability to be creative and explore. Now I realise it’s turned out to be an opportunity to change my life for the better and find my true joy and purpose. To expand out of myself like I had never done before.
I suppose if faced with any type of disease like mine I would encourage you to listen deeply to your inner child, hear that voice that called you when you were younger. Become aware of the joy that was in your heart, not shut yourself off to what you think you know. Look around at the amazing world and the life you are capable of living. Study who you truly are and what makes you tick. Make yourself the most important person in your life and indulge yourself in your own happiness, whatever it may be.
Most of all I would advise you to do all this before illness becomes a part of your life like it is mine.
I hope everyone goes out to find their true passion in whatever way they can. It’s helped me to see the world in a new light and I wish that for us all. It doesn’t have to be a walk or a camera but something that inspires you and fires your imagination and spirit.
My heart soars when I see something interesting to get a shot of. Maybe one day I will take it further and finally do something that makes my heart sing for a living. Something creative and inspiring for me and hopefully to others. If not me and my reliable camera will still be out and about enjoying the views, getting better and better every day in every way we can.
Author: Emma Toms
Image: Flickr/Heath Cajandig
Editor: Travis May