I had my cut off Jean shorts on. I had on a Bills t-shirt. My backpack was full of cameras and a plan to have a relaxing afternoon of talking to myself — vlogging. My wife and two daughters were walking behind me. They were in their bathing suits. The sun was shining bright. We were going to the beach.
Then I picked up my phone. Made a call. Introduced myself and announced my purpose. I hung up and turned around. I would not be going to the beach. I would be going to work instead.
I’m working on a series of articles about growing cross-straits economic relations (and potentially a film about it as well) and Kinmen is ground zero for this.
I called to set up an interview with the man who’s second in command in the local government here — who also seems to be a driving force behind re-establishing Xiamen / Kinmen relations. He is also prone to giving emotive, to the point, well-spoken interviews — i.e. something I can actually use.
He wanted to meet immediately.
So I walked back to my guesthouse, put on something resembling work clothes (full length jeans), and exchanged a few cameras for my interview rig, and off I went.
My family didn’t even respond with a glitch. This is just normal by now. They know I never have any idea what I’m doing. They were probably just relieved that I didn’t get off the phone and announce that I was immediately departing for Strung Treng.
If you ask me to go across the world tomorrow there is a better chance that I will do it than if you try to plan it for six months down the road.
How am I supposed to know where I’m going to be six months from now?
I need to be unchained enough to be able to pounce on whatever story comes passing by, not tied up with a never ending stream of pre-established engagements.
I don’t have any semblance of a work schedule — I kind of just work all the time. I usually don’t have any idea what country I will be in next week. I keep things open-ended, fluid, and responsive — so when someone I want to meet is able to see me I can be there. No questions asked, no appointments to cancel, I can just say, “Sounds good.”
It’s a strategy that I’ve found effective — or, rather, absolutely necessary. I’m a professional story chaser, and I understand how unpredictable this work can be. So rather than swimming against the tide I observe the way the river is flowing and just go along with it.