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2008 Cosmic Paper Redux

When I was in high school, my English teacher, Mr. Demkowicz, had us write Cosmic Papers a couple times a year. A Cosmic Paper was something of a personal review of one’s life, a way of taking stock of what we’d learned so far in his class, how we might have grown and changed, and how it related to everything and anything. Thus the “Cosmic” portion of the title.

For a number of years after high school, I would sit down at the end of the year and write my own cosmic paper. It was a good, reflective discipline.

I don’t intend to write a complete Cosmic Paper here, but I have been thinking about the year past, and want to take a few minutes to reflect on it.

Ten years ago, it was hard to imagine a year like 2008.

In 1998, I was still struggling with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and was living in subsidized housing. But things were looking up; I’d just traveled to Taiwan to photograph a wedding, was looking into finishing a BFA in Art, was best friends with a wonderful girl, and was planning our wedding.

Fast forward 10 years:

I’m now preparing for my 10 year wedding anniversary, which is hard to believe. Shannon and I are better friends than ever, and we’ve racked up some precious memories in a short stint of time.

In the past year, I’ve photographed in 10 countries outside of the USA. (Mexico, England, France, Slovakia, Hungary, Austria, Spain, Morocco, Cambodia, and Thailand.) That’s an incredible dream come true. I’ve photographed for magazines and stock, weddings and models, street shooting, documentaries, and portraits. I’ve met many wonderful people and been able to tell some interesting and meaningful stories. I wrote my first travel magazine article on Bicycling in Budapest. I’ve been vomited on in airplanes, hiked the Yorkshire Dales, explored the Bories of southern France, worked with women struggling with eating disorders and the aftershocks of sex slavery, and come to enjoy chocolate.

Back at home in the past year, I’ve photographed some beautiful weddings and portraits, created some new websites, moved on from a leadership position at church, sent my wife to nursing school, and submitted my Skeleton in the Closet series to book publishers. It’s been a year of ups and downs in both photography and real estate investing, but overall a year of rest, growth, and discovery.

That’s a long ways from subsidized housing and CFS.

I say none of this to gloat. I’m sure plenty of people are jealous of what I’ve been able to do this past year, just as I remain jealous of what others are able to do that I’m not. So counting one’s blessings, and expressing gratitude, are good practices. I have a lot to be grateful for, and I am blessed. (Although it’s also true that I had a lot to be grateful for and was just as blessed 10 years ago.) God is good.

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