If you celebrate, I hope that however you spent Thanksgiving was really lovely. And that your meal was as delicious as this monkey's was. I think for many of us, this time of year is a time of reflection and gratitude. The older I get, the more aware of the immense blessings in my life, many of which are so easy to take for granted. And I hope that this may remind you of your blessings as well, if you're not already aware of them. For example, if you had a Thanksgiving meal, you are so fortunate. If people that you love joined you for that meal, you are so fortunate. If you were able to see those loved ones with your eyes, and hug them with your arms, you are so fortunate. If you were able to speak to those loved ones with your voice, and were capable of hearing their voice in return, you are so fortunate. If you hosted that meal in a safe, warm home, you are so fortunate. I could go on and on and on. For these things, and many more, I am extremely grateful. What are you grateful for this year?
"When we focus on our gratitude, the tide of disappointment goes out and the tide of love rushes in."
The morning that I took this photo may end up being the biggest catalyst for the new style I've been playing around with since my adventure in Indonesia. The most noticeable change being that previously I would patiently wait for humans to leave the scene in order to get a completely natural landscape shot. While that's still nice, what I immediately learned by simply observing Jord Hammond and his work, is how important having a subject (human, car, motorcycle, flower, tree, etc.) is in order to draw focus, provide scale, add contrast and create an extra layer of complexity to the scene. I'm proud of this new chapter in my photography, but I am very aware that I still have a ton to learn. Which actually really excites me to know, because it means that I am currently the worst I will ever likely be again, and that the best photos of my life are still waiting to be captured.
"Develop a passion for learning. If you do, you will never cease to grow."
-Anthony J. D’Angelo
While making large life decisions, I often use regrets to guide the decision. I'm not talking about past regrets, instead I'm basing my current decision on preventing future regrets. As in, "which path would I most regret NOT taking?" Making sure that future me will be happy with my decision. I'm sure all of us do this to certain degrees, but this tendency in me was strengthened by a book many of you have likely read. Walden by Thoreau, easily the most dense book I've ever read, and while frustratingly dry at times, is scattered with gems of wisdom and inspiration. The most profound quote for me, and easily the most popular, lives in my mind. And while the first part of the quote is his most well-known, the rest of the quote, although lesser-known, contains wisdom as well. I'd be honored if you read it below and shared with me what this quote means to you.
"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion."
-Henry David Thoreau
Out of all the pleasant surprises we encountered while cruising the Indonesian ocean, Padar Island was definitely a highlight. And even though it's a very prestigious location, I didn't know it by name, so when I saw it on our itinerary I didn't realize what we were about to see. In fact, it wasn't until I got to the viewpoint that it fully sunk in where I was. The night before we anchored the boat about an hour away, so the following day, in order to beat the crowds, we raised anchor before sunrise and ended up being among the first people there. And, as usual, the early wake-up was completely worth it. It is such an incredible place! And this photo is honestly just a small glimpse into the vast beauty of this spot. Some places that I've visited I can sort of check off the list and move on to the next place, happy to have seen it, but without the need to return. Padar Island is one I'm definitely leaving on the list and can't wait to see again.
"On earth there is no heaven, but there are pieces of it."