A little over a year ago I decided to capture the upcoming year of my life on video, just a few seconds at a time every day. The idea came from a Vimeo post that I saw by Madeline Schichtel, a cool girl from Los Angeles, who made even the most mundane things seem interesting. I liked the concept, and while it is not my original idea, something told me that it would be an interesting way to look at my own life at some point. Leading up to 2013 I had a feeling that this would be the best year of my life. Maybe it was just wishful thinking, or perhaps blind enthusiasm, but I really did feel that, so it seemed like the year to embark on this little video project. One second every day seemed a little lean, so I decided that 2-3 seconds a day would be appropriate, and I limited my videoing to only a few short clips a day to be edited later as I didn't want the camera to rule my life. The end result is an average of 2.3 seconds per day shot mostly on my iPhone, but also using my Canon 5D SLR once in a while.
Fresh off a December whirlwind of travel to Japan, Canada and Italy, I started my year in Berlin with my sister and her boyfriend in the Tiergarten park New Year’s festival with 3 million other cheap champagne drinking idiots packed into a few kilometres of park road. I visited the tiny town of Stralsund where she lives on the Baltic sea, went to Hamburg, and visited friends in a snowy London. I returned home fat and out of shape with only 6 weeks to train for the annual 5km showdown against my friend in March. I ran a lot in 2013. I ran my first half-marathon, and later in the year relatively unplanned I ran my first marathon. The former was great, the latter was…painful.
I went to Ethiopia. It was a crazy, eye-opening, and emotional experience. I travelled with the best group of people, and I would count them all as good friends now after only 2 weeks together. There is something unique about the bond of travel and its ability to bring people close together even in a very short time.
I did the Tough Mudder event in Whistler, which was difficult for me in some ways and easy in others. I ate a lot of mud and soupy water, but the antibiotics I had taken for my post-Africa sickness probably negated any ill-effect.
I spent the summer mostly at home in the beautiful Okanagan riding my bike, spending time with friends, and working. I went to Vancouver, the city I grew up in, for an old friend’s wedding, planned to spend a week there, and left after 3 days realizing that I had in fact moved on from that place in my life.
Overall it was an emotional year. I cried more than I normally would have. I loved more than ever. I was honest. I did things that scared the shit out of me. I caught up with friends from all over the place, some of which I hadn't seen in ten years. I lived with an open mind and an open heart. I went places I never thought I would go. I realized that my friends and family were there for me in ways I had never given thought to. I didn't always make the best or simplest choices, but I grew tremendously as a person.
If there was one thing that defined 2013, it was realizing that the feeling I had been waiting for all these years — the one that makes your heart skip like an old record, the one that keeps you up at night, the one that makes you want to vomit uncontrollably when things aren’t working, the one that makes you do completely ridiculous things, the one that inspires you to challenge yourself in new ways, the one that makes everything about giving and less about taking, the one that gives you a sense of purpose and clears the branches from the path in front of you, the one that makes it feel like the planets are perfectly in line — even if just for a moment — that feeling does in fact exist.
2013 was an absolutely incredible year lived fully at a breakneck pace. Some amazing things happened, and some disastrous and difficult things happened, but the world keeps turning. We live in an amazing time, and the world can be so small. I was more alive than ever this year. No regrets.
Call me greedy, but I'm always optimistic that the current year will be the best one ever, and looking back over my shoulder over at 2013, I can only help but wonder what's next?
Chris Stenberg is a Canadian travel photographer, filmmaker and researcher. When he’s not wielding a camera or raising a family you can find him running, biking and boarding in the mountains or eating an apple under a tree in an orchard.