On Happiness: Photographically, and Otherwise

Today I was talking to a student, and they asked me what the most important thing I have learned in life is.

That’s a big question, isn’t it?  During my years I have experienced epic success and crushing failure (not in that order, thankfully).  I have been a cook, a musician, a private investigator, a paramedic, an EMS educator, a web designer, a writer, a photographer, a son, a brother, a father, and a husband.  I have been ill, and I have recovered.  I have had experiences that literally run the gamut from delivering babies to holding the hands of those who were passing from this world.  My life, even the worst parts, has been amazing.

Speaking only for myself:  I think this quote sums up my thoughts on this question perfectly:

“Happiness is a choice, not a result.  Nothing will make you happy until you chose to be happy.  No person will make you happy unless you decide to be happy.  Your happiness will not come to you.  It can only come from you.”

– Ralph Marston

My work has gifted me the opportunity to speak to tens of thousands of strangers over the years, and the ones who were truly at peace with their lives all had one thing in common: they had learned to take ownership over how they react to things, rather than letting those things dictate how they feel.  When I was younger this seemed mystical to me…. foreign…. impossible even.  Honestly, it seemed like bullshit to my younger self.  But hey, wisdom comes with age if we let it, right?

Epictetus said:

“It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.

When something happens, the only thing in your power is your attitude toward it; you can either accept it or resent it.”

This is easier said than done of course, especially in this era of political strife, of a pandemic entering its second year, etc.  But, it is 100% true.  

My student and I had a good chat about where our happiness comes from.  It was a great reflection, and I think we are both better for the conversation.

…and, because I had time on this rainy Sunday afternoon, I thought I would share this with you all as well.

Have a great day everybody.



Winter Has Arrived

Winter has finally arrived in Vancouver, bringing with it sub zero temperatures, windchill, and a light dusting of snow. These are actually fairly rare conditions here, contrary to popular opinion, so It is always fun to get out and shoot when the light is right. That was not the case today sadly, but it did prompt me to go back through my library and find some winter photos from years gone by.

All images taken with Fujifilm X series cameras of course.

The Power of a Moment

“Failure at some point in your life is inevitable, but giving up is unforgivable.”

Some moments change our lives forever, while others change the entire world.  These moments, large or small, flood us with emotions and force periods of reflection.  These are the times that we will remember for the rest of our lives.

The moment a veteran heard thunderous silence following a cease fire, overwhelmed by a mix of relief and disbelief….

…or the moment new parents held their baby for the first time, eyes flooded with tears of joy and minds dreaming of the life their child will lead.

The moment a young adult threw her cap in the air at graduation, her heart filled with pride as she transitions to a new life…

… or the moment when much of the world breathed a sigh of relief as a life long public servant swore an oath of office, pledging to set his country on a path that leads away from hatred, from isolationism, from chaos and from deception.

These are the times that we will remember.

Moments like these don’t come easily, but they gift us with the opportunity to be inspired, to be educated, and to focus our energies on that which we hold dear.  Whether you agree with his politics or not, the fact is that President Biden’s life has not been an easy one; full of tragedy, loss, victories and defeats.  But, throughout it all, he did not give up on the country he loves because, in his own words, giving up is unforgivable.  

Inauguration Day was a reminder of how important it is to create our moments, to chase our dreams, to learn from our failures, and to never give up.  Carpe Diem my friends… seize the day.  

What will your moment be?