How Did I End Up Here?!
How Did I End Up HERE?!
What is the old proverb…”People plan and God laughs”? I often ask myself how I got where I am. I certainly didn’t plan it.
When I was about twelve years old, I made a decision that I was going to move away from my small Alabama hometown when I got older. At that age, the specifics didn’t matter and the logistics weren’t crystallized; but the conviction was. I started to make decisions then that affected where I am today. I just didn’t know it at the time.
Like many other people, I graduated college and sought work in something that would financially secure me. I was clueless on what I wanted to do other than to make money and have a comfortable lifestyle. After a series of unfulfilling jobs right out of college, I figured out what I didn’t want to do!
Soon enough, I found a career that was both exciting and challenging. I worked hard and enjoyed what I did. I rose through the ranks and did a good job. I accomplished some success and still fondly recall that period of my life. I made lifelong friends in the process.
I travelled down the well-worn established path to money and success. I focused all my efforts on achieving external accomplishments, job titles, and financial rewards to define me and determine my value. These were my measuring sticks of human value. Surely, the more I accomplished and earned would made me more successful and better. Right?
Fortunately a series of unpleasant, life-changing events gave me the willingness to review and change my life. Through a great amount of personal self-examination and work, I was able to see my misplaced values. I realized that for me to achieve true contentment and satisfaction, I had to break that old measuring stick of success.
I had to take action toward doing what was good for the universe, not only me. I had to spend less time on looking good and getting things and more time on being good and giving. I discovered that I had to get right with me before I could be right with everyone and everything. It was an awakening to realize that peace and contentment was found within, not externally.
So, what does this have to do with photography? I never really thought about being a photographer. It wasn’t even in my realm of consciousness. I didn’t even own a camera! I actually stumbled upon my passion for photography.
It all started innocently enough. I explored the Southwest, mostly looking for myself. I took along a used Canon AE-1 film camera that I purchased and learned to operate a day or two prior to leaving. Through trial and error, I photographed for the first time this magnificent world full of brilliant colored red, orange and yellow rocks, otherworldly geological formations, rugged snow-capped mountains, and the bluest sky I ever saw. Being from Alabama, it was like visiting another planet.
I eagerly shared my photographs with family and friends who had never seen such wild beauty. The resounding consensus was a request to see more. The positive feedback, compliments, and encouragement gave me the confidence to seek other unique places to photograph. I caught the shutterbug.
My hobby became more important. It was an extension of my personal growth. As I lost interest in selfish things, my ability to see and capture beautiful landscapes and architecture grew. It was like seeing with new eyes. The watershed moment was the day I decided to pursue photography full time. I realized I didn’t want to awaken an old man and ‘wish I had’. No regrets. I finally broke the old measuring stick.
Years later, I’m still afflicted with the shutterbug. My travels have extended far beyond the Southwest to include many foreign countries on multiple continents. I’ve had the privilege to experience and photograph many amazing and beautiful places. And I’m not finished yet.
However, the most fulfilling and rewarding experience has been the journey to finding myself. I still don’t fully understand why or how I ended up here, But I’m sure happy I did.