I wanted 2016 to be different. I wanted it to be a year of being more intentional. Not necessarily to mold the days into something predictable but to live in such a way that makes them unpredictable. I intended to travel as much as I could while balancing work and preparing to start graduate school. It was a year filled with self-reflection, growth, good times and bad times — but, most importantly, with a whole lot of joy. And I’m beyond thankful for the family and friends who were with me along the way.
I made it a point to go somewhere each month in 2016. I don’t think I went 12 for 12 but came pretty close. The biggest trips were Norway in February and Yosemite in May — Chicago, D.C., Shenandoah, California, the annual trip to the Smokies, and a few new places around Florida made up the rest of the year. I finally got around to getting my scuba certification over the summer and had my certifying dive down in the Keys. Now I just need to find some dive buddies. The goal is to gain scientific diver status by the end of graduate school (if not by the end of this year).
Lofoten and Yosemite were surreal, and the memories that were made from each place won’t be fading anytime soon. Lofoten was a guiding experience in my own photography and the decisions I was trying to make about school at the time. Yosemite was a spirit mover — it’s not difficult to see why men like John Muir were drawn to this sacred place.
As I had been thinking of moving away from Nikon early last year after selling the D3 and 400 f/2.8, having the rest of my gear stolen in San Francisco after the Yosemite trip helped force a transition, and I made the switch to Fuji — a decision I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the more I’m able to shoot. There aren’t enough good things I can say about this company right now. Don’t worry, no reviews here — there are plenty of those out there already — but I will say I think Fuji is changing the game. No, there’s nothing currently produced to replace a full DSLR kit, and though that’s not really the point, cameras like the X-T2 are getting close to doing so in a much more compact and enjoyable way.
2016 was one for the books. As great as some of it was, it didn’t come without its share of disappointments and discouragements. But I’m continually having to remind myself that I’m still new at this, and I’ve got some wonderful people helping me along the way. I made some new friends. I hit the one-year mark with a job I truly enjoy. I’m going to grad school (and it’s free!). I’m also working on something for students at the College that’s pretty dang big — more to come on that since I can’t make an official announcement yet.
Without getting too philosophical, I wanted to start living more deliberately as the notion of humanity and the beauty behind its true meaning have piqued my interest a lot as of late. Looking more into the world of ecological aesthetics and natural beauty, and how those things affect us as individuals, has become a small mission of mine that was realized halfway through the first semester of grad school. I want to learn what I can do, and how I can do it best — not for myself, but for the people and things around me.
“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson
A lot of 2016 was unexpected, but I think we can all use a little more of that in some ways. So, as you boldly march into 2017 with whatever resolutions you have, may you be vigilant to all the wonderful and unexpected surprises that await you. May this year be your year — one filled with more growth, more laughter, more joy and excitement than you ever expected.