Category Archives: philosophy

It’s Worth It To Be Persistent

Elephant Puppet

 

This months wallpaper was inspired by a recent experience. The story of which I am splitting into two posts because I feel it will be easier digested that way. Click on the image above and it will open the image in a new window for you to download. I hope you like it.

Now on to our story.

The other night Melissa and I were flipping channels and trying to find something worth watching. Late Sunday night is a no-man’s land for TV, save for a double-shot of Twilight Zone episodes (the Rod Serling kind, not the modernized, crappy reboot).

She flipped it over to a nature show and the setting was in the plains of Africa. A woman was recounting her study of a pack of elephants. In particular, she spoke about the birth of a new calf and the rough introduction to life it had gone through. In the end, it persevered, but the going was crushingly rough from the very start.

At first glance, the baby elephant seemed just like any other they had seen. It spent most of it’s time in those early hours lying in the shade of his mother, staying out of the hot sun. It wasn’t until he tried to stand up for a drink of milk that they began to notice a problem. Every time the newborn calf would try to stand up, it would fall down on its knees. Over and over again, he would try to stand or walk and just as he got his foot planted, his body would lurch forward and come crashing down, grinding his knees into the hard, sun-baked earth below him.

It wasn’t hard to figure out where this was going. Injury in the wild is a sure killer. Genetic defect from birth couldn’t stand a chance, right?

The narrator talked about the fears the team had for the calf’s survival. Their assumption was underdeveloped cartilage in the joints of the calf’s legs, a death sentence in that environment for two reasons. One, elephants live and travel in herds and if the calf can’t even walk it surely can’t keep up with the herd. Strength in numbers is important here. Two, the repeated slams to the ground of the calf’s knees would eventually break his tough skin and lead to infection, something not even the herd could help with. The outlook was bleak.

The mother did her best to do what she could. For hours, she would take her long trunk and wrap it under the baby’s stomach and lift him up, trying to get him to stand. No results. If she left the calf, he would certainly die, cooked by the sun. But the sun was beating on her, also, and eventually it was too much for her to bear. She left, reluctantly, to spray some mud on her back and cool off, and it appeared she realized this was a battle that would have no victor. She made her way towards the rest of the herd which was ready to move on. I thought that was the end. The little calf was left alone, unable to walk without falling down after a few feet, and the sun was settling in to cook him alive.

Then the calf started crying. Loud, shrieking, painful cries for help. The mother could only stand this so much, and she came thundering back to her baby. It seemed that if she had to die to stay and comfort him, she would. A tragedy was playing out before my eyes.

That’s when things took a turn.  Again shaded by his mother, the calf kept trying to stand, and progress was starting to show. At first, he would get on his feet for a few seconds and then wobble back down to the ground. But with every effort he made he stood a little longer, then a little longer, then a little longer. He kept trying until, finally, he was standing on his own four feet. He reached out his young trunk and took the first, long, refreshing drink of his short life. The time he had spent on earth had been filled with nothing but adversity, literally falling down over and over again to arrive at this moment. Surely no milk, no lush plains grass or water from the purest stream would ever taste as sweet as the milk he had fought so hard to get.

With a few more stumbles he joined the herd, his family, and went on to live with them doing what elephants do, together.

So many things rushed through my mind while watching this scene play out. The obvious sentiment being persistence.

More on this next time.

Hope all is well.

GV

 

 

 

 

Living in the Time of Steve Jobs

Like many of my fellow creatives and tech junkies, I was shocked and saddened to learn that Steve Jobs had passed away yesterday. I can honestly say that for the first time in my life I mourned the passing of a CEO of a company. Then again, there haven’t been many CEO’s like Steve Jobs.

Everyone is going to be using the same words to describe this man’s life: genius, visionary, creative, inventor, innovator. They all apply and it is difficult to really understand the scope of the impact Jobs has had and will have on the way we interact with technology and each other.

My 2 year old nephew can easily navigate and operate an Apple Ipad. “Ipad” was one of the first words I heard him say. The technology in that device, the touch screen and motion control, will be as foundational in his experience with computers as the keyboard and mouse was to me when I was a kid. That blows my mind. It’s Jobs’ vision that put that technology at my nephew’s tiny fingertips.

The most interesting thing is having witnessed the changes that have occurred as a result of his ideas in real time. I can read about Henry Ford and Thomas Edison, two of the men Jobs has been compared to, and their accomplishments, while obviously significant, feel detached. I grew up always having the convenience of their contributions. I don’t know what life is like without automobiles or light bulbs.

Seeing the process of innovation happen before my eyes has brought it to an understandable and accessible human level away from the supernatural folklore that history has a way of painting things. Reading in books about the sweeping changes that have occurred from the vision, creativity, hard work and down right stubbornness at times of certain people, I am sometimes left with a feeling that they had something else up their sleeve. As if they had a fist full of magic beans that guaranteed their success when the thing they really held tightly to where no one else could see is the conviction to follow through with ideas they truly believed in.

It gives me hope that I can make changes in the established ideas I hold on to that I don’t yet realize are holding me back. When a pattern of mediocrity reveals itself in my life the decision is either to change things or to remain where things are comfortable. When old ways of thinking and doing fail to propel me forward, new methods and new ideas are the path to a future I didn’t even know existed. A future where I don’t let the good get in the way of the great.

I’m sad to see Steve go, but I’m glad he’s not suffering anymore. It’s strange that in dying he proves one more thing: That he was human just like the rest of us. If he can make an impact on a global level to the lives of millions, then I have no excuse to not make an impact on my little corner of the universe.

 

Bailey Wedding

I had the pleasure of photographing Jason and Tracy’s wedding last weekend. They were married at the Timothy Demonbreun House, a bed and breakfast near downtown Nashville.

When we sat down prior to the wedding to discuss the look they were interested in, they told me they weren’t really looking for anything stodgy or too formal. Most important of all, they wanted to have fun. I couldn’t ask for a better couple to work with: Calm, cool and relaxed. It was not only a pleasure to spend the day with them, but their families and friends as well who welcomed me so warmly. Truly brilliant people all around. They have some wonderful support.

I was filled with a lot of gratitude that day. Some of it was for the love between the lucky couple and seeing the new life they were about to embark on. I always enjoy being in the presence of a couple that truly loves one another and watching the back and forth between them. These are the kind of people to be observed and studied in the hopes of picking up a secret or two in the process of building and sustaining a healthy relationship. These things are never accidents, successful unions are on purpose.

I was also clobbered with a pleasant sense of humility about where my life is right now. I’m so grateful for the opportunities that are unfolding in front of me. Life just keeps getting better and I never thought that I would be where I am today just a few short years ago. What a ride. Such cool people I get to meet along the way.

Congratulations to Jason and Tracy. I hope you have many years of happiness together.