Doing what you're supposed to

I like photography.

I was a 14 year old wannabe. I particularly liked Ansel Adam's stark black and white landscapes, the precise composition, the subtle and expansive tones, and most of all the hyper sharp detail. But I didn't own a camera and part of my interest in the art was prompted by my interest in a particular art-loving girl. But since I am more scientist than artist it seemed that art with precision tools would be my best bet to impress.

In the summer of 1989 the young people in my church went to a town in Kansas (we lived in Springfield, Missouri) to visit a different church, sing some songs, and hang out with some other kids our age. It so happened that the town we visited was about an hour and a half drive to the house of my mom's aunt and uncle. So she said to my sisters and I "Hey, let's take a few hours and visit my aunt and uncle." My sisters thought that was a great idea but I didn't. I was with some of my best friends and preferred to stay with them. I complained. A lot.

Off we went, leaving my best friends for a few hours to visit family I seldom see nor cared much to see. I frowned the whole drive, making sure my mom knew my pain.

In addition to my great aunt and uncle we visited with my mom's cousin and her husband. She worked in the city, did cool stuff, and took an interest in me. She asked me this and that and discovered I like photography. After an eternity of visiting with old people we finally reached the best part: leaving to go back with my friends. But before leaving my mom's cousin says to me "You know what? I have a camera I'm not using and I think you should have it." She gave me an old camera bag (turns out it's an old Domke -- a well-known photojournalist camera bag). Inside was a stunning black Nikon FM with black MD12 motor drive, Nikon 50mm lens, and Nikon 105mm lens. I mean they were black, sparkling beautiful precision photo machines. I was impressed. I was humbled.

So I did return to my friends. But now I was different. Sure I was excited, very excited. Now I could be a photographer not just want to be a photographer... or at least start down the path. But I also learned a valuable lesson. Do what you're supposed to do. When and how things happen might not be to your liking but you don't know how they're going to turn out.

So yesterday when some wannabe friends in Formosa said "hey, come visit us and our church?" I didn't say no. In my head I thought "I'd rather just hang out in town, see things, eat and drink..." But I also remember when my mom said "let's visit relatives" and it led to one of the most important passions of my life. And thus we met new friends, had fun, practiced Spanish (ahem , Castellano), taught English, saw more of Formosa than we would have otherwise, and have anchor to assist our return someday. Blessings indeed.

Oh, and I did get the girl and it was related to photography. Years later one of my best friends said "You need to meet Hillary. She is studying photography at university."

And the rest is worth a thousand words...