I feel really lucky lately. Granted, my life is not all sunshine and rose petals, but all in all, I have little to complain about. I live in a wonderful place, I’m surrounded by supportive friends and family, and I get to do things I love on a regular basis.
I’m a passionate person. I work hard, play hard, live hard, and love hard. I crash hard too. For the most part, many of the things I do, I do with all my heart and soul. My life is generally one big euphoric cloud of adrenaline and enthusiasm, and most of the time, I’m riding high on a big white puffy cloud of positive feelings. The thing is, the higher I get, the harder I can fall. Yet never once in my life have I fallen without someone to catch me.
Never once in my life have I crashed alone, and because of that, I’ve never crashed for long. My crashes are momentary bursts of emotion that tend to be a mix of sadness, loneliness, confusion, sometimes anger, and always incredible amounts of love. Even in the depths of my lowest lows, I always love the world.
I just got back from an amazing amazing trip to Acadia National Park with members of the North American Nature Photography Association. Acadia is one of my favorite places, and every time I go there I fall more and more in love with that place. I also always seem to meet really fun and interesting people there, and this trip was no exception. Despite the foliage not being quite at peak, the uncooperative weather, and limited shooting I did, I had an absolute blast because I was with incredible people. My co-leaders were probably the most inspiring group of pro photographers I’ve had the opportunity to work with, the participants were pleasant, positive, talented, and a whole lot of fun, and the others I met who don’t quite fit into the first two categories were simply exceptionally awesome people. I couldn’t have shared this experience with a more wonderful collection of individuals.
So when the good-bye hugs were shared, the “see you laters” murmured and car doors shut for the last time, I felt a sense of loss. This is not unlike other trips I’ve led, and I’ll admit a few or more tears were shed as I once again began to contemplate my whole life and what do with it. Internally, I felt my two halves – the one the yearns for a life of stability, security, and familiar roots vs the one that craves a life of constant inspiration, adventure, and exploration – tug at me. Part of me wanted to dive into the wilderness and not come out for a while. Part of me just wanted to get a massive hug from a friend.
I could go on and on about how these intense and immersive trips take their toll on me, or about how I have an amazing assortment of friends scattered all over the world, most of whom I see in person not more than a few times a year, if that, and how I wish that were not so much the case. Sometimes I feel like my heart can’t handle it anymore, being fragmented into so many pieces that have been broken off and given to various gypsies or homebodies whose home just happens to be a different place than mine. But then I realize I was gifted with massive heart, and no matter how many times I love I will always be able to love more because that is who I am.
I like who I am most of the time, and it’s possible for me to be that person because of the many kind and wonderful people who have been a part of my life, particularly those of you who have assumed an ongoing role. I’m a very independent person, but I thrive on human contact and interaction, and as much as I enjoy my moments of solitude, the truth is, I can’t be who I am in isolation. I need people. I need you.
So this note is really a thank you to all of you. This is a thank you to the NANPA folks and other environmental photographers who inspire me and get me excited about the work we do. This thank you goes to my friends who are just a phone call away when I need someone to share good news with, to unload emotions on, or just to entertain me on a long drive. This is a thank you to the people who make me smile, who challenge me, and who remind me of who I am at the core of my soul.
So many people have touched my life, some only briefly, and some who have anchored themselves with roots that will continue to grow as the years go on. My mom has been my biggest supporter since the moment I came to be, and my adopted family in New Hampshire make a state I’ve lived in for only a couple of years feel like home. While biking across the United States in 2009, strangers took me in, fed me, and gave me a warm shower and a clean bed. I get messages and emails from kind strangers offering words of encouragement and support, and sometimes glowing compliments from people I’ve known only briefly, but whose comments touch me deeply.
I don’t know if it’s possible to adequately express the gratitude I feel towards all of you using words and the limitations of the English language, particularly via such impersonal and electronic means as a blog post. I mean to say thank you, and I mean it to mean something, but I’m imperfect and I don’t always know how. The truth is, you all make a difference, and I know that part of who I am is just because that’s who I am, and part of who I am is because of who you have allowed and enabled me to be.