When I decide to take a trip through my old photos I discover that I have been to many amazing places, seen so many beautiful things, met wonderful people, and gained precious friends.
Life has, for the most part, been very, very good to me.
The parts that haven’t been “good” have been just as important though, as I believe they have helped to make me “better”, or at least I hope so.
I can look at this photo and remember that I was standing by the side of the road in Astoria, Oregon with my husband, William, my four fantastic children, and remember with clarity that it was a beautiful moment during a very trying time in my life. The economy had just collapsed, we were attempting to embark on a completely new venture in order to make a living. Family issues were tearing at our hearts and minds, and yet there we stood.
Enshrouded with the mists of late evening on the Northwest coast, eating french fries, smelling the salty air, hearing the lapping of the waves, and loving every moment we had together.
It’s good to remember, when the “right now” looks impossible or insurmountable, that there have been better days and there will be better days, and I will get through them and still have these snapshots of the best moments of my life during what feels to be the worst days of my life.
I remember standing on the sand, watching that boat through the viewfinder of my camera, and imagining a life for the fisherman who was on his way home. I tried to imagine what his day had been like. It was Valentine’s Day and it had been raining and cold for most of our trip to the coast. The wind was blowing cold and carrying with it a promise of more rain.
I wondered if he had a sweetheart to go home to that night. If someone would be waiting with a warm meal and a hug or roses and a kiss.
I wondered, because I know what it feels like to make your living from the earth, if he had caught enough fish that day to keep his family in a home. Or if he was looking homelessness in the face like we were.
I wondered, because I was wondering the same thing about myself, if he was afraid he might have to give up the profession he loved in order to take care of the people he loved.
I wondered all these things, and as I wondered I brought the camera up to my eye, framed a shot of his boat, his light, the waves and the water, and snapped a photo. Preserving in that instant the simplicity and beauty of where he was right then. I don’t know who he was, I don’t know whether the recession was kind or cruel to him or to his family, but in that moment he was like a lighthouse for me.
I know that I have looked at this photo many times and loved it. I’ve loved that he was there to add such a beautiful and human element to the Columbia River as we watched.
I know he wasn’t there for my benefit, but because he was doing his best for himself and his family, I benefited nonetheless.
Perhaps, in that realization, he gave me even more than just a pretty picture. Perhaps the act of doing the best we can, no matter where we are, is what makes the biggest difference in the world. Perhaps it is the simple act of working the job, loving the family, and serving the friend that really makes for a stronger civilization.
If it is, then I must believe that better times are no further away than men and women who have the courage to do what they can and women and men who have eyes to see it.