Distraction

Remuera, Auckland 2011 (photo credit: Christian Espinoza)

What is going on around us?

We are being told to look here and look there, while they pull the wool over our eyes.

Look with your eyes, trust no-one, and stay alert.

We are at the crest of the hill looking down, boy what a sight.

Once I was blind, now I see.

What you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening”

– Donald Trump

The party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command”

– George Orwell, from the novel ‘1984’

Letter to my 10yr Old Self

Auckland, New Zealand 1993 (photo credit: Author’s mother)

Dear Chris

You don’t know me yet, but I know you intimately. You are a fearless, funny, and caring young person. You surround yourself with friends, toys, and movies. You live for speed, no matter the cost (pretty soon you’ll lose the protective pads, and that will hurt). You make people laugh, you entertain them with your magic tricks, and your impressions. Life as you know it now is bliss and you are as free as a bird. I know you well. I was you. I am you. I can tell you that your life will take some turns, but before I do that let me give you the highlight reel.

You’ll carry yourself well through high school, you’ll get good grades and you’ll pursue the Arts over Commerce or Science. You’ll have dreams of becoming an archeologist, however they’ll be knocked out of you by your guidance counselor. As you become a senior at High School, you’ll replace sports with music, and you’ll develop an obsession for playing the guitar and listening to heavy metal music (with a brief foray into British Jungle music in the late 90’s, even skipping your school’s graduation dinner to attend a Ronnie Size concert). You will develop a love for film and video, and in the age before smartphones, you will learn how to shoot, edit, and score your own movies the old fashioned way. You travel to France on your own for three months to meet your Father for the first time… I won’t ruin it for you, just don’t get your hopes up.

As you move into University you find your mind will expand. You will study Design, and you’ll explore everything from 3D animation to Sculpture before majoring in Photography. You’ll make some friends, you’ll lose some friends, then you graduate. In between you’ll learn some valuable life skills like what it means to mop the floor and clean toilets for a paycheck, what to do when you’re involved in a road accident, and also that smoking tastes horrible no matter how cool you think it makes you look.

You will eventually graduate from University as well, get your degree, and get out into the real world. You’ll work a job that overwhelms you so much that you lose five kilograms in as many months, but don’t worry it will desensitize you for any stress later in life. If anything you’ll learn more life skills in these few months than in your entire life up until this point. So now we get real.

Your career takes a different corner, you move away from photography and production and into, ah, Telecommunications. You ride this wave for a good decade, and you develop some hard skills in project management, as well as all that other stuff that people put on their Linkedin (by the way, that’s an online platform where you can… nevermind). You’ll travel some more, meet some girls, fall in love even, and then boom! You inherit a young family. That’s right, you will meet a young lady, marry her, and become a Father to her incredible little boy, his name is Ethan. He grounds you, and for the next ten years he becomes your top priority. You take him to school, you read to him, you teach him about life, movies, and music, as he grows you become best friends. You can be quite strict with him at times so remember to just chill, he really is a good kid.

This brings us to the where we are now. You’ll find yourself at a fork in the road and you’ll be faced with some hard choices. You’ll need to make a decision for yourself, one that will affect the next ten years at least. You’ll reflect a lot, and take a deep look at the person you have become. You will realize that you lost yourself along your journey, but when you finally reconnect with yourself again it sends you into a state of pure joy and happiness, much like how you’re feeling now. Free.

I will leave you with this Chris – follow your nose, trust yourself, and always make time to be with your friends and family.

Yours, CE / 2019

P.s: borrow some money for your 18th birthday and invest in Apple and Amazon stock. Then do it again in 2005 for some Facebook stock. Trust me.

Mirror

Auckland, NZ 2011 (photo credit: Christian Espinoza)

A window is sometimes really a mirror. But do we consider that life reflects back ourselves to us?

Our state of being is sometimes overlooked, instead disguised by matters of doing. Of course, we are not human doings for a reason, yet often our identity is defined by what we do, simply consider the all to common conversation opener ‘so, what do you do?’

When we put all our distractions away, and simply look through the window, we look onto what appears to us as our reality. Everything that you see, smell, and feel are all part of your experience. Of life. Of your life. You are a part of something larger than you, or what you do.

Your experiences as a human being are not mutually exclusive to your identity, in fact I believe that we are all universally aligned to a higher energy, or resonance, beyond our individual selves. It is physical in a way, and if that is the case, then the window is really a mirror and our universe begins inside of us, not out there.

Dust in the wind. All we are in dust on the wind”

– Kansas

Life on The Moon

Photo of an Elinchrom Reflector, Auckland NZ 2019 (Photo Credit: Christian Espinoza)

The Artemis Mission will see NASA send the first woman (and next man) to the moon by 2024, specifically the lunar South Pole.

They will explore the lunar surface as a possible habitat for future generations. Can you imagine that? The first generation born on the Moon.

Exploring the vastness of the Moon could become yet another man made theme park and ride (see a great dramatisation in the movie Ad Astra), or it could open up the gateway to deep space mission to Mars.

I recently helped my son turn in a science paper for school. The assignment was to write an official letter to the president of the USA, as the “lead scientist at NASA” about plans to colonise Mars and what potential that could have. The letter had to be written from the year 2029. That was more fun for me than it was for him I think.

Will we see life on Mars, as Bowie once questioned? Or will that life be our own, just in the distant future.

Funny how secrets travel
I’d start to believe if I were to bleed
Thin skies, the man chains his hands held high
Cruise me blond
Cruise me babe
A blond belief beyond beyond beyond
No return No return

– I’m Deranged, by David Bowie

We are Infinitely Small

Night over Doha, Qatar 2018 (photo credit: Christian Espinoza)

Discover the world.

Take chances, take risks.

Follow your instinct, trust yourself.

Create the environment for you to flourish.

Invite others to collaborate with you.

Laugh more and spend more time with friends.

Make time just for yourself.

All things you can find on a Hallmark greeting card, but maybe it’s all true. Try it and find out for yourself, and see if you’re life becomes more rewarding.

Becoming Sentient

Lake, Auckland NZ 2015 (photo: Christian Espinoza)

Workplace automation, neural networks that can detect heart failure with 100% accuracy, and decision making bots. A decade ago, mentioning the word Skynet would intrigue and excite sci fi and Terminator fanatics, now in 2019 it is likely to leave a cold stare and a shiver inside.

Is it possible that we’re living at the cusp of a new age of cognition? From the dawn of time, humans have sought to explore and improve for the survival of our species. Perhaps an injection of computer power will elevate us into the next realm of our evolution… but I am not seeing androids just yet.

While computer algorithms are learning how to read inputs through repetitive sensory data and recognizing patterns in order to predict many possible outcomes, a large number of practical applications have not tapped into the logical next step: decision making computers.

Fast forward twenty years from now and we may see computers leading complex government projects, or creating university curriculum. They’ve already started to replace the role of the Photographer in studio. This is only the beginning.

In three years, Cyberdyne will become the largest supplier of military computer systems. All stealth bombers are upgraded with Cyberdyne computers, becoming fully unmanned. Afterwards, they fly with a perfect operational record. The Skynet Funding Bill is passed. The system goes online on August 4th, 1997. Human decisions are removed from strategic defense. Skynet begins to learn at a geometric rate. It becomes self-aware at 2:14 AM, Eastern time, August 29th. In a panic, they try to pull the plug.

– Arnold Schwarzenegger, The Terminator, 1991

Team work

Kaitaia, New Zealand 2010 (photo credit: Christian Espinoza)

Three points would change the course of history forever, but it was the grueling effort from all team members which led them there in the first place.

The year was 1993, the Bulls and Suns went to battle on the court for the NBA Championship that year. I was glued to the TV set. This was arguably the greatest Bulls line-up in history: Jordan, Pippen, BJ Armstrong, Horace Grant, John Paxson, and Bill Cartwright. Suns had Barkley, Majerle, Kevin Johnson, Ainge and Dumas… but as most kids in the 90s, I was obsessed with Michael Jordan so there was never a doubt in my mind. Bulls all the way.

Game six, let me set the scene: After a heated five games over the course of two weeks (including a nail biting triple overtime in game three), it had come down to the final battle for the championship played in Pheonix. A lot was riding on this game. If the Bulls triumphed, it would make them only the second team in history to ever win three consecutive championships. The scoreboard read ’96-98′, Bulls trailed by two points at the end of game six. I felt the pressure through my TV set. Bulls coach Phil Jackson was dripping in his own sweat. With under two minutes to go, Jordan ran the ball down court, passed to Pippen, who quick passed to Grant, who lighting passed to Paxson at the three point line totally free and unblocked, and in that moment the fate of the Bulls would change forever. Paxson put up a three pointer and scored (!!) to give the Bulls a one point lead with 3.9 seconds remaining on the clock. Suns called a time-out, while all of us in TV land watched slow motion replays of Paxson’s three pointer as it gracefully orbited down into the net. There was no coming back from that for the Suns, after time-out the clock ran out, and the Bulls became the 1993 NBA Champions. I slept easy that night after a full day of celebrating with my friends.

Something I came to learn in the decades that would follow is the team dynamic. While there is always a great leader who serves their team, each individual in it has the duty to contribute, whether you’re a Michael Jordan or a John Paxson.

Twenty six years later, and this event still holds up as a pivotal moment in my life.

Team work makes the dream work.

Individual commitment to a group effort – that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.”

Vince Lombardi