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Sunday, March 23, 2014

Africa with Will

An old friend of mine who passed away several years ago told me once that "all we are and all that we have are given as a gift of love to be celebrated fully and with absolute joy. Upon our parting from this incredible adventure called life, we'll stand before the old master and he'll ask us how we enjoyed his great gift? Our thankfulness will be in the acknowledgement that we loved and truly lived every second of it"
  A few years back, that old friend, Wayne Morine and I had the chance to visit the countries of Namibia and South Africa and the trip utterly changed my life. One morning, while driving through the backlands of termite hills and thorny scrub, we chanced upon two native women dressed in their finest, slinging babies and packing gathered firewood on their backs so they could cook breakfast. Others made the quarter mile walk to the local well and carried water back to the village in buckets balanced on their heads. Meat, drying in the trees was collected and cooked over open fires as black flies and dust filled the air.  Later, children were whisked away to school in an old wooden cart pulled by a couple of donkeys. There were no electric ranges, refrigerators, dish washers, running water, televisions, cell phones, fresh cleaned clothes, cars or school buses.  At night, we could hear the entire village singing beautiful songs in perfect harmony around the campfires. Of all the sites I saw and tried to take in, the thing that struck me most was that in their simple lives they were genuinely happy.
  Two weeks later, as we traveled down the highway between Cape Town and the airport in our luxury BMW taxi to fly back home; we had the chance to see a South African township. On our right, was a beautiful country club and golf course manicured to perfection. On our left was a slum of one million souls living in abject poverty. Their homes were made of rusted tin and patched up cardboard and every hundred yards or so was one electric light on a high wooden post so they didn't have to live in the dark.  I have no idea how they ate.  The irony of being at the very center of such diversity struck me dumb.
  Over the years I've tried to simplify my life and enjoy the sheer joy of being outdoors and pursuing my passion of taking pictures and sharing them with you. Like the villagers, simple experiences seem to be the most rewarding and seeing so many people struggle has made me realize just how much we have to be thankful for.  I often think of the folks who say "If I just had a little more, then I'd be satisfied". In Africa I found that if you're not fulfilled with what you have you'll never be happy. We can talk all we want about our incredible blessings, but how we live them each and every day is the real measure of what we are thankful for. 


Saturday, March 22, 2014

Change - The Good, Bad, and Great!

Change - the Good, Bad, and Great!

You've lived in your house for a long, long time.  It is so familiar that when you turn off the lights at night you still know exactly where to find the switches to turn them back on again. You can walk around in the dark and not crash into the furniture and find the problem.  It's the same with your car.  You hop in, the radio has your stations tuned in, the seat is adjusted just the way you like it, the mirrors are exactly in the right spots, and you know how it drives.  In fact, just about everything in our everyday lives works pretty much the same way.  That's why we love familiarity and hate change. It's a hassle and makes us feel really uncomfortable at times. 
     Last week, after much soul searching and a lot of advice from others, I finally decided to make one of those big changes. Several years ago, while moving from  the financial services industry to full time photography, I had to invest  in  a lot of new equipment including cameras, lenses, printers and computers.  Did I say COMPUTERS?  On the advice of several professionals in the know, I bought a PC and with the help of some very good tutors, learned Windows.  All of the operating systems that I've used for the last five years have been in that system and boy did it get comfortable.
     Two weeks ago, late in the evening , Candi called down from her office and said her computer wasn't running.  I tried to get it going but nothing was working and so we called the computer guru to come and see if he could make a repair.  Nothing doing and in the end it was the dreaded news everyone fears..Total crash and burn.  A couple of days later she decided to purchase a new Apple Mac.  It was beautiful, new and exciting and got yours truly thinking about doing the same thing. Dreading a crash myself and on much advice from others in the know, I purchased an Apple too and the familiarity in my photography life ceased the minute it switched on.  I couldn't find the light switch in the dark and the bathroom had moved somewhere else in the house. That uncomfortable feeling of remorse and impending doom was welling up in my gut.  Photoshop was gone.  The little programs I'd developed to help with lighting adjustments, gone.  Mail, internet, windows office, word, gone, gone, vanished!
     Luckily Wayne, my business partner had an Apple and with a lot of patience and persistence helped me through most of it.  We've installed all of the operating systems and except for a few minor glitches are getting back to a bit of normalcy.  I've had to call the Geek Squad a couple of times at two in the morning, but they've done a good job in getting me through a couple of issues as well. Heck, in a few weeks, it will feel just like living my house...familiar.  Click