July 29, 2010
Henslow's Sparrow with spider
Henslow's Sparrow with spider
Driving home recently from a weekend getaway, Deva and I got into one of those wide ranging discussions which you can never trace back along its threads to a beginning, but you just know it's not going to end where you thought it would.  "Alright," she said finally, "tell me the five most exciting things in your life right now."  It took me about five seconds to come up with this list:

1)  Getting a great action shot of birds that aren't easy to find or see.
2)  Having good sex.
3)  Seeing a student I'm working with experience an 'Aha!' moment.
4)  Traveling to a part of the world where I've never been.
5)  Watching Steve Nash run the Suns offense.

"Well . . . that was quick!  Can you place them in order?"

"That is the order."

I knew the minute I said it I was in trouble.  Even without looking at her I knew I was getting The Look.  "Okay," I said, "it really is only number two, but it happens way more than all the others put together.  And you know it's all about you."

Everyone needs a passion in their life.  Something in their life they look forward to every day, something that keeps the days moving, something that keeps the dreams undisturbed.  Something that truly engages them in the moment, makes time stand still, filters out all life's distractions, mutes all the bad stuff.  I think that's the origin of the now grossly overused term "keeping it real."

Dewitt Jones covered it one time in his Outdoor Photography column.  He was out shooting landscapes near a campground, and a little boy with a toy camera, which doubled as a drink container, saw him.  The boy watched him intently for awhile, mimicking everything he did, then asked him, "Hey, you got juice in your camera?"  Dewitt, whose cup always runneth over, took that and ran with it for a wonderful, uplifting column about staying positive and finding a passion in your life.

Bird photography is what I do.  Bird photography is who I am.  Birds don't put the juice in my camera.  Bird photography puts the juice in my life.  It's what I think about in the morning when I wake up.  It's what I think about when stuff happens, when life intrudes.  It's what I want to be when I grow up, but I didn't know it until I grew up.

Everyone needs to find that passion in their life and then succumb to it totally.  Maybe it's the perfect serve.  Or the perfect soufflé.  Or the perfect sentence.  Alright, it could be perfect sex.  If it gives you purpose and joy, go for it and let the journey define you.

I want to freeze frame moments of real time in the natural world and preserve them in the amber of my mind.  I want to see what others miss, show it to them, and get them emotionally involved enough to care for what's happening out there in and to our environment.  I want the sparrow with the spider.  I want the eagle on the elk carcass.  I want the falcons with the swift.  It excited me the first time I looked through the viewfinder of a camera.  It excites me still.  I make no apologies for its being atop my list.
Peregrine Falcons with White-throated Swift
Peregrine Falcons with White-throated Swift