Funny how things always seem to settle into something familiar even when you are in the most unfamiliar of places. I thought that traveling far from home and having all my time available to dedicate to my work meant ultimate productivity and a creative high point. However, I've come to discover that a lot of what stands between me and productivity is not location dependent, but has to do with me and my attitude towards my work.
In a perfect world, I'd be one of those people who gets up at 6am, goes for a run, reads the news, and tackles half their day's to-do list before noon, someone who "can't help but work too much". However, in reality, I am often lazy, I enjoy sleeping in, going off on internet tangents, and I spend a lot of time not doing the things I'm supposed to do. I'm often bitter about this part of myself, often brutal in the way I criticise my habits, but I'm slowly learning that this is just something I have to deal with and overcome, and a lack of motivation is not innately a broken part of my being.
I feel like my current project has taught me a lot about motivation, and patience. When I don't feel productive, I don't feel motivated and without motivation I tend not to be productive, and so begins the vicious cycle. But perhaps I need to redefine what it means to be "productive" when working on something that's often not advanced by what I've produced at the end of a day.
A huge part of my project is working with my grandparents. And I've slowly come to learn that even though they are family, a relationship must still be built where they are comfortable enough with me to let me photograph them, or interview them in a meaningful way. Building relationships take time, a lot of time that is chatting, going out together, just being present. Understanding and reflection also takes time, which is something I thought I could achieve within an 8 hour work week. Yes, some understanding can be gained by reading and researching for a certain amount of hours. But when contemplating questions like, what is it like to live in China as a Chinese-Canadian person? What does this place mean to me? What is the importance of my relationship to this culture? The understanding comes slow and creeping, barely noticeable. After a few months you look back and see that you understand a bit more than before. There's no telling when you'll reach the point of knowing the answers to those questions, perhaps you never will.