The other night I was up pretty late, drinking wine and watching some random Korean soap opera on TV (yeah, I know … welcome to my world). From what I could gather in the fifteen minutes I had seen of it was that, minus the inevitable love triangle and torn emotional trauma that typically surrounds a Korean drama, the show was about a group of chefs trying to create their “masterpiece” dish. One young chef had come up with an amazingly beautiful, tasty dish, but he looked so sad. Something was missing, he said. He just wasn’t excited about it.

When he said that (or rather, I read it from the subtitles since my Korean isn’t what it used to be) it really struck a chord. That feeling, as simple as it may seem, is what drives us. It gives us a reason to enjoy life, to wake up each day and look forward to the next. It gives us purpose, momentum and fuels our energy to grow.

For the past several months I’ve been taking pottery classes. My goal with this endeavor is to use my hands, get away from the “digital world” for a few hours and maybe even make something I can use with my photography. I’m still not very good, but at least I can keep the clay on the wheel and form it into something that I’m usually pretty happy with. It’s all very experimental, since I never really know exactly what I’m going to create when I sit down and start working. Recently I’ve started adding decorations, making more refined work, and loving every minute of it. I’m feeling that excitement build, wondering what I’m going to create next. I kinda feel like a kid again.

Today I’m heading out to the store to grab a bunch of goodies for some food I plan on photographing (and eating) later in the day. When I pre-visulaize an image of the next dish I’m going to create and photograph, it’s usually all I can think about. I’m so excited! I can’t wait to go through the entire process of cooking, styling, lighting, plating … and then finally making my way to creating that final image is like icing on the cake.

So here’s my question to you: when was the last time you were excited about something? Was it your photography? An ingredient you couldn’t wait to cook? A vacation you’d been planning for months, or even years? When was the last time you felt that inner burst of happiness, brought on by one specific thing?

That feeling of excitement, longing, craving—whatever you call it—it’s what drives us. Whether it’s with your photography, cooking, hobbies, family … if you’re feeling it and it puts a smile on your face then you’re truly living. I’ve had my days of loneliness, that feeling of something missing in my life, but I always have something driving me each day. Maybe it was a book or big project I was working on, or maybe it was as simple as one photograph I wanted to create. I find that one small thing I’m excited about can pick up momentum for other things, building this whirlwind of energy that fuels my life and my desire to create, teach, share … to learn and to grow.

We all have so many reasons to wake up each day and enjoy each breath, and I say it’s better to smile, find something (or someone) you love and live each day to its fullest. Find what drives you and enjoy the ride.