I’m back! I’ve spent nearly the past two weeks in Shandong, China with a team from Arizona on a sort of cultural exchange. (Don’t ask me how I wind up in these situations. They just sort of happen.) Shandong is beautiful, but right now it feels like the frozen tundra. Normally the Canadian in me would laugh in the face of winter, but never have I endured one without heat or insulation. And here’s another thing: even if you have hot water, it doesn’t mean the rest of the bathroom is warm when you’re showering. Brr!
But it was really wonderful to get some new experiences and also hang out with my friend Jon, who’s currently teaching there. Unfortunately whether because of our schedule or my uncharacteristic wimpiness, I wouldn’t say that I had a ton of opportunity behind the lens. Mostly I’m grateful to have been part of the team, and for the people we met along the way.
It’s strange to think that 2009 is already here. I rang in the new year by going to bed with an extra pair of socks! :) Now it’s customary in times like this to look back and do a little reflection. 2008 has been utterly insane. Perhaps this past year, unlike any other, I’ve learned that God on the mountain is the same God in the valley. The year of the Rat took me to some of the world’s biggest boardrooms professionally, carrying me all over Asia. There was long hours, commeraderie with my colleagues and all in all, a huge learning experience. Personally, I traveled to Nepal to the refugee camps, and then switching gears entirely in Panama. I watched my little brother graduate, bid my best friend farewell to Israel (and next to Jordan.. So proud of that girl..) I made new friends, and said goodbye to others. Never have I felt my loved ones and interests more far-flung than now. It seems every where I go, I leave pieces of my heart behind. Whether in Jawlakhel, with the Tibetans who loved and accepted me in spite of our differences, to the incredible people I am privellaged to share my life with and call friends. It’s a maddening, exhilerating time to be alive. Our childhood behind us, and the whole world stretching before us to explore.
Sometimes the unknown seems so great and far away that I wonder what’s bigger: what destiny has to offer me or my imagination. I’m not sorry at all to see 2008 go, only because 2009 can only get better.
Growing up as a pseudo-nomad does funny things to you. At least for me, it’s engrained a kind of unquenchable wanderlust that combined with my love for photographing people, makes me really wonder if I will ever be able to settle down. When I see the work of people like James Nachtwey the road beckons of adventure and stories yet to be told. I wonder that anything will ever be able to capture my heart than the exhilaration I feel bumping along some dusty road in a forgotten corner of the earth, camrea in tow.
I have a new project in mind to kick off 2009, which is also my New Year’s Resolution. I have no idea what this year will bring, beyond knowing it will take me to China and Rwanda before the year’s end. I can’t wait.