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.

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.

Focus

Jogyata, Auckland NZ, 2014 (photo credit: Christian Espinoza)

Meditation is not about emptying your mind, you don’t have to do in a quiet room, and you don’t need incense burners to practice.

For a time in my life, I practiced meditation daily. I recall one new years eve I spent it meditating alone, away from my family. The next day I woke up and meditated at dawn. It was all a bit much, but I was hooked, and I thought it was the only way to reach… enlightenment? It took a while to really get through the surface of it, but when I did, it opened my world.

We will experience many challenges in life, work and at home, and we often don’t know how to cope, but that’s OK. We face conflict, setbacks, failure, loss, one day at a time and we deal with them as they come. Meditation taught me to look inward without judgement. It taught me how to focus through actively breathing.

In my career I have found myself under many a stressful situation, as well as conflict, violence, loss, and definitely failure. The one thing that helped me through was focus, which I learned through the practice of meditation.

Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless – like water.

– Bruce Lee

Higher Self

Photo from Susan Jeffer’s book, “feel the fear and do it anyway” (photo taken by Christian Espinoza)

This is my guide.

When I connect all the squares, I feel truly happy. I feel whole.

When I tip the balance one way, I loose myself and it’s hard to reconnect.

Try it for yourself, and be real.

It’s not easy to reach, but it’s worth all the stress and anguish in the end.

Reflecting

Arrowtown, New Zealand 2015 (Photo Credit: Christian Espinoza)

Seeking solitude, finding peace in a restful place. Letting go, or longing for a distant memory.

We are all looking for something out there, but often we forget that there’s nothing to find out there at all.

The remnants of the past come back as glimpses in the present. They hurt at times, but they also make us see ourselves better.

We live the stories we tell for ourselves, we see our reflection in others. We close our eyes when we don’t want to see what is in front of us.

Accepting yourself for better or worse is better than believing what is not real.

Start today, speak your truth.

Grounded

Brisbane, Australia 2016 (photo credit: Christian Espinoza)

These past few months for me have been insightful, in fact I could say they have been life changing.

Since graduating from University I have been inclined to throwing myself into work, no matter the cost on myself or others around me, I have come to learn that through reflection and perspective. As a mater of fact, this daily blog started as a means to fill the time, and now it has grown to become an active, real time diary of who I am.

Who am I? For the past 15 years I had been too busy to ask. One day the busyness stopped, everything went quiet – literally. The phone stopped ringing and buzzing with text messages, emails, and other notifications. My diary became empty, and stayed empty. While everyone went to work I had all the time and space in the world but I didn’t know what to do with it. I didn’t know who I was anymore and I felt like a shadow of myself.

Over the following weeks I engaged with the few people from my network, people from all backgrounds, all disciplines, and I began to seek their knowledge, advice, but I still had no plan. One such meeting with a friend who I hadn’t seen for years (who is now a leadership coach, and an amazing one at that) managed to point out the obvious to me… although it wasn’t so obvious to me then! She put it all into perspective for me when told me “it’s like you’re floating in space, grabbing at things as they float towards you”, she was dead right. I will forever value her wisdom and kindness.

It would be foolish to think that I have it all figured out now, however I can say that I know myself in a way I never did before. Something I could have never found out if I didn’t stop and ground myself.

I am fortunate to have the people I do in my life, because if it weren’t for them I may still be floating in space.

Your arms don’t hang by your side in space like they do on Earth because there is no gravity. It feels awkward to have them floating in front of me.

– Scott Kelly, retired Navy Captain and NASA Astronaut

Lethal Ladies

Photo of Daria Smith, 2014 (Photo Credit: Christian Espinoza)

Being tough is not about beating people up.

Being tough is about being fearless, and taking a challenge head on. Knowing who you are and being at peace with your inner self.

Having the discipline and self control to put in the practice, day in and day out, and condition your mind and your body to achieve greatness.

I had created several kickboxing documentaries before, but In 2014, I undertook a personal project photographing some of the Muay Thai fighters from the “Lethal Ladies” camp. They definitely lived up to their name in the ring ! In the studio they were some of the loveliest people I have ever photographed. Some were even a bit shy, but the shoot was a total success and really fun to do.

I learned about the art of Muay Thai and what it means to these fighters.

If you’re interested to know more about the Lethal Ladies, watch the Vice video below, filmed right here in NZ !