I live as an American expat in China.
I make documentaries.
I am about to climb Mount Everest.
I’m cycling around the world on a recumbent trike.
And my Chinese girlfriend is pregnant with my baby.
That was my situation on March 2016.
My life at the time contained so many storylines, some of them intersecting and some of them independent. I was trying to decide how to capture the essence of all of these themes in the most effective and interesting way possible.
And I was having a hard time settling on one.
I thought I could make an hour long documentary on the Everest climb. It could consolidate the story of the lead up to the climb, the trek to base camp, the actual ascent, and the return trip, all into a neat little story. But this method would sacrifice the detailed drama and nuance of what it takes to accomplish each of those sections. I’m the type of guy that is fascinated with the story within the story, and many times that is lost on the cutting room floor when you are arranging an over arching documentary. There was also the issue of mixing multiple storylines into one succinct video. Too much Everest, and I would gloss over the drama of my new baby. Too much baby stuff and I would gloss over the grueling aspects of climbing the mountain. Too much of both and the story of my upcoming cycle tour would be lost.
How to balance?
I believe that every day of our lives we take part in an interconnected and evolving story. From the moment we open our eyes to the time we close them, we are engaged in a tale. A tale of us. Stories breath in and out with parts being played by the places we go and the people we interact with. It’s rarely about a single theme, but a mixing of anything and everything that makes us who we are. It would seem confusing if, as a viewer, you just watched a moment of the story without any context. But if you are brought into it over time in the form of daily produced content, then all of the storylines play together on your knowledge of past experiences. You in turn find yourself more engaged as a viewer. Your no longer a spectator, you are a member of the family, riding along with the life of the subject, and all of the complexity makes sense. This is how I view the idea of doing a daily lifestyle Vlog. And this is how I decided to tell the tale of my life.
By producing a daily video, I didn’t have to leave anything out. I brought in storylines seamlessly, as they applied to that day in particular. I told the story of the day, and when that day was finished, I told the story of the next and so on. Vlogs for my Everest experience, for example, allowed me to give insight into the climb that would be impossible to tell any other way. A unique step-by-step story for the entire 60+ day expedition. Every day was its own adventure, and I realized quickly thru producing the Vlog that it was less about the summit and more about the moments leading up to and away from it. On a personal level, it added a level of appreciation to the trip as a whole that I was not expecting.
But even after the expedition, I continue to find the Vlog fulfilling. In my daily life, it gives me a chance to share insights and to dip into and out of humor and drama. I shed light on aspects of living as an American in China, learning to be a new father, and even my passions of reef tanks and cycling. It all fits together in a seamless sort of way. And it only becomes more solidified over time. Strange, seemingly unrelated storylines clash and then weave together.
I even look at my days from a new perspective, a new more fulfilling way.
I am constantly asking myself:
How can I make this moment better?
How do I continue to live an interesting life, so others may find benefit in what I do?
Am I being too lazy today?
What is a unique perspective for this ordinary activity?
And most importantly…
How do I complete the story?
Completing the story is incredibly important. Just as our day has a beginning middle and end, so does everything we do. From getting a cup of coffee, to riding the bike to the office. You must capture it all in a unique way in order to tell the story properly. Vlogging makes you realize and understand these moments better. You look at moments with a critical eye, often times illuminating even the most mundane activities. In a lot of ways, not only does Vlogging help you to share the important things in your life with the world, it helps you understand your life better.
But Vlogging is not simply about a journey of self. It is about sharing. People from all over the world have found and are inspired by my story. I receive emails and comments every day from people who have found a connection with my story in their own unique way. Whether it becomes a tool for them to experience the world thru another’s eyes or they act as a simple pick me up to put a smile on someone’s face at the end of a long day. Viewers have truly evolved to become my friends. And given the nature of the openness of the daily Vlog format, they know almost everything about me, giving them an understanding of who I am and what I’m about that exceeds some of my close family. I thrive on connections, the ability to be a change maker. The Vlogs have given me the ability to reach out exponentially to exact positive change on people’s lives. This has in turn given my life new meaning.
Fast-forward to today, my Everest story is behind me. A new chapter has opened with the birth of my daughter Eva. My subsequent chapter will open next spring, as I restart my world cycle tour. And what once was thought of as conflicting storylines that had to be sacrificed to tell the greater story, now can be opened up, explained, and thoroughly examined in my daily JY-VLOG.
This day, in particular, is significant. Today is Episode 100. And as I sit in my couch trying to formulate how to tell the story of the day in a unique, interesting and insightful way, I think of how far I have come and how far I have yet to go. But that’s ok. As time presses on and much of my life ebbs and flows, so will my Vlog. Further illuminating the complete tapestry of my life. A tapestry the world can enjoy.
My name’s Matt. I live in China. I travel the world. I have great adventures. Join me on my daily Vlogs and everything in between. www.jayoe.com.
Find Matt here!
Website | http://www.jayoe.com
YouTube Channel | https://www.youtube.com/c/JaYoeNation
Instagram | https://www.instagram.com/jayoelife/
Twitter | https://twitter.com/jayoelife
Personal Facebook | https://www.facebook.com/mcgalat
JaYoe Facebook | https://www.facebook.com/JaYoeLife/