Keeper of the Light, Pt. 1: A Campfire, college credit, and the internal spark

January 26, 2018


Keeper of the Light is a monthly blog series that chronicles my purpose for photography, its purpose in my life, and a good quote or two.
We photographers, we place a lot of emphasis on this idea of light. We search for the most perfect, even, gentle light, as we want you, our amazing clients, to look nothing but your best.
With this blog series, however, I am going to turn the flash onto myself, and overexpose my purpose, my reasons for picking up that Nikon to capture your lives.
But first, a story.
I remember distinctly my gym credit for college: Camping 101. It was my first course of my freshman at Itasca Community College. Rather than being a whole semester, it was simply a weekend away to the Laurentian Environmental Center, a wonderful facility situated Britt, which is about halfway between home and the point of the Arrowhead region of Minnesota’s northland. Not only was it for physical activity, but it was also serving as a way for those of us in the pre-education program to bond.
After three hours of team skill building in a wide open field underneath the high, hot, blinding August sun, the only bonding I did was with my bunkbed and a bucket; I learned this weekend that I am very susceptible to heat exhaustion. It made almost everything impossible, especially survival training the next day.
So perhaps it was in my sunburnt delirium, or something more divine, but it was at this moment I first thought about light beyond a switch. I don’t remember his name, so I will call him The Man Who Taught Us About Being Stranded In The Woods; he was certain to always stress the importance of fire when it comes to survival, as that light means the difference between life and death. Not only will the heat from the fire provide necessary warmth come nightfall, but also the flicker of flames became a lifeform of their own; the movement and motion of the light was a buddy of sorts, a practically living entity that provided a focus for attention, a bright spot in complete darkness (both literally and figuratively).
Now, I know we are all pretty much aware that The Big Guy created first the heavens and earth, and within that universe we needed lightness (that came first) that was followed darkness (which in the process He also created the first legitimate symbol for Literature folks to analyze to death). This is not a discussion about that so much as it is look at light in our individual universes. In order for this world to exist, we needed it to be illuminated…how are we as people any different with our day-to-day existence?
How do we light up our lives in the hopes to brighten the world?
If I am being honest (which I had better be, as that is the purpose of this series), I have never questioned my greater reason for hanging around; I am here to repair the world, make it better than how I found it, and leave a legacy that might make someone else who hears my story think about how they can make a positive change both inwardly and outwardly
This I have known since I was just little. The process of going about this reason, however, not as much. I frequently wonder what I should be doing to make Him proud, and worthy of this life I live. I strive to seek my purpose in every day.
From this search I know one truth: There are truths about each one of us that we know are undeniable. These are the things that we would stack against anyone because we know so solidly that they are who we are, and there is nothing we can do about it, try as we might. I am a writer, a storyteller, a communicator. Always have been, always will be. Sadly, so many of us do try to change these rooted attributes, and we may be successful with it on the outside, but on the inside, we have done nothing but dim our light, our purpose….sometimes to the point extinguishment. And once it is out, it is hard to relight.
So it was most appropriate that as I sat under the beautiful northwoods night sky, glittered with what had to be all the stars in this universe, I stared into the campfire having finally found a little relief from blistering day in the sun; I thought about this new chapter I was about to script for my life. Here I was–right out of high school, surrounded by a collection of peers that were joining me in a educational path to fulfill our mutual career aspirations, exactly as we planned. We were about to do life so perfect, so right.
NEXT CHAPTER: Part 2: A speech, a tragedy, and a transfer (In no particular order): How two became six, and six became too many (but yet, not enough).

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At home on the road. Forever-focused on authenticity and the thrilling art of creation; always found in the moments that leave me breathless and in awe. 

After fourteen years as a high school educator, I stepped back through a door I thought was closed. Journalism came back into my life. Armed with a Masters of Arts in Communication, I was again challenged and prepared to tell the stories that would become history, but with a twist: It is now your legacy of love that I document. The tension I seek is that from every tear, smile, laugh, and moment of love on your wedding day. 


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