Saturday, September 14, 2013
I did not become a photojournalist.
It became me.
Moments in the history of our community have unfolded before my eyes, been captured by camera, lens, film and now digital sensor.
Victory has thundered. Defeat has held quiet hope.
I’ve ridden shotgun in rescue helicopters, been pushed flat to my seat by G-forces while trailing a stunt plane. Seen my cameras slammed into armor while maneuvering through the desert in tanks during war games. Had floodwaters lapping at the doors of my Jeep as I plowed along — one of the last to escape being stranded in an inundated town.
Nature has thrown her grace and her fury into the rushing wind, battered my face and hands with snow and sleet, left me drenched in rain, drenched in sweat, freezing cold and breathless in the glowing aftermath of rainbows and beautiful light.
From the fluid blur of a thousand games, the national anthem still tops the chart of most listened to song, easily surpassing all runners-up. John Fogerty, Billy Joel, Springsteen ... I hope you understand.
There are very few things more intoxicating than to look at life, to listen to her speak — to truly hear a voice for the first time even after years of thoughtful conversation — and hope, for even a moment, that somewhere there is that sense of understanding.
If ever past, present and future could find a neutral ground to finally rest, I believe it would reside within our great capacity to think, to feel and to understand. It would not find peace in the weakness to record with bias. It would not be blinded by prejudice. It would find strength in our ability to observe openly and honestly, to use what we see, hear, feel and question to deliver the truth of the moment as best we can.
I have survived countless nights where logic, compassion, order and justice were put to test, understanding challenged.
Nights where serial child killers were executed and, before the breaking dawn, innocent children died in a burning house.
Nights that made no sense. Nights where the punch line to reality was cruel.
Only the anguished cries of a mother on a sidewalk, by a burning home — seared into my eyes and brain — while firefighters and paramedics did the very best they could.
Scars that linger. Wounds that no amount of therapy, desensitization or medication can ever completely heal. Difficult — but the positive reminder that life should not be taken for granted. That somewhere, mixed with the magic of hope and wonder, bad things can happen, forever adding weight to the corner of our smile.
Yet still we smile.
No one is a stranger to pain or suffering. Pain is inevitable. Suffering is not. Although we have little control over the malice in life, we do have some control over the life of malice.
Suffering is most often a choice.
So now I leave this job and move forward. Time to smile. The weight is over.
Many nights I’ve questioned, “Why have I survived?”
I don’t have an answer.
All I have is the hope that somewhere along the bridge that links our youth with what we become, we will see fit to find a moral compass that will help guide us through our honest mistakes and honor our gentle triumphs. And when we must fight, we lead the charge and do not retreat with cowardice behind the ranks of those who have stood at our side.
But most of all, thanks to all the wonderful people who have made this journey so worthwhile. Without you, there would be no rectangles to fill and stories to tell.
This is my home. My community. My life.
I hope I have served you well.