The Road Less Travelled.

Onward

Life is a river that flows in one direction. Onward. As a youth you enjoy the speed and excitement as the current pushes you from one experience to the next. Learning to read. Write. Speak. It’s exhilarating.

As you get older, the impulse is to try to hold back those river horses. Consolidate what you’ve learned. You’ve spent years learning everything you think you will need to know in this life, then everything changes. And that can really throw you. You have to start again. Again.

But life, the simple definition of which no two sciences or theologies fully agree on, doesn’t care about your last ten years. Or that your career just became surplus to requirements. Or even that you were replaced by a software update. It just flows onward. This thing we call life, simply is.

If you try to hold back the river you are likely to drown. Or at the very least, look quite silly. The better thing to do, therefore, is go with the flow. See where it takes you. Onward.

In life, metaphorically and otherwise, we come up against dead ends. Some, you just cannot overcome. Others, you can. Since I was a child I have not tried to fly by jumping from a roof and waving my arms. I may be wrong but I still believe that would end badly.

I have, however, continued to learn new skills every year, and will for as long as I can. I have changed horses in mid-stream more times than most. Primarily, because I enjoy it. Learning new skills keeps me fresh, and helps me move into the future to face new challenges. Onward.

From grease monkey to sales, purchasing, logistics, customer service, training, photography, and a lot of in-between along the way, I discovered one simple truth many years ago. Learning one way to do things does not mean it will always be the only way; just ask a film photographer. So I’m adaptable. Open to change. To my mind, it’s the only logical move we have.

Case In Point

Case in point: I like to get out and explore. Growing in to a career producing print materials, web, and video designs, I adopted a camera as a tool of the job. Beyond that, I use it for event and landscape photography – some of which you can see at http://photos.gystservices.com.

While doing all this, I fell in love with the camera as a tool for relaxation and fun. I spend much of my down time driving around taking photos. My camera is my constant companion, providing solace and peace while it records my adventures. I drive for hours. Just drive. This is my explanation of how and why I found myself on a No Exit road, face to face with this particular sign.

When I saw it, I smiled. Because the limits had been set. The challenge was before me.
One look into the wilderness and I knew I could go further. So I did.

I took my fate into my own hands and drove on. Taking this cautionary sign at it’s word I proceeded carefully, navigating around deep ruts, potentially deeper standing water, fallen trees and the encroachment of nature on all sides. And, a half mile or so later, came out the other side.

No worries. This was a calculated risk. As a commercial driver for years I know my own limits and those of any vehicle I drive. I felt comfortable knowing I could back out, navigating hazards in reverse. I knew the clearance under my car. I’d checked Google Maps satellite view for obvious dangers, and knew exactly where I would emerge. I had cell signal to call for a truck and knew which way to walk to the nearest road if I had to. Risk management 101: Know your exits. This is perhaps not as romantic as the thought of diving headfirst into the wilderness, but hey. I’m adventurous, not stupid. I took stock of the situation. Then took a leap of faith.

My reward was seeing things not visible from the well-traveled road. Three does, a stag, squirrels and birds and strange buzzing insects beyond number. An abandoned barn. Wild chickens. Wild turkeys. Rabbits.

All because I was a little adventurous, and faced a new minor challenge. Despite what this sign said, the road did not end here. The real road, just like the the river of life, flows onward. And I’m still driving it. Or going with the flow. I have to stop mixing metaphors. Comedic juxtaposition and humorous silliness aside…

I can recommend getting out of your own comfort zone sometimes. When the asphalt ends, or the river of life takes an unexpected turn, try to at least keep your head above water and go with the flow. Do something new, every day. Make your own road. It’s very rewarding. It keeps you young. It’s worth it.

Writing down all these deep thoughts has taken quite a lot out of me. I need some down time now, I think. I think I shall go for a drive.

Onward.

Onward: The Road Less Travelled.

Happiness

Happiness is where you find it. Here, it’s in a quick video snippet of Nikki and I out and about enjoying the Summer. This bit of silliness was recorded during a stop at a local Conservation Area.

Just because the world seems to be coming to an end is no reason to let life get us down.

You take your happiness with you. Wherever you go, there it is. Or isn’t. Happiness can be shy and may not want to come out and play. Happiness is like a child. Petulant. Stubborn. Unreasonable. Beautiful.

Happiness needs nurturing. Take it to the park for a picnic every so often. Buy it an ice cream.

There is joy and happiness aplenty to be found in this silly old world. Sometimes, you just have to coax it out from the rock it’s hiding under and bring it into the daylight kicking and screaming.

Mixed metaphors aside, things can always get worse. Conversely, they can always get better. Remember that. You can’t control what life throws at you, but you can control your response.

Be happy, in spite of all the reasons not to. In some cases, not all, it’s a choice. Not always easy, I know.

Whatever shape your own happiness may take, start a conversation with it. Learn what it likes. Buy it an ice cream. Make the effort. We found ours. Seek. And you, too, shall find. So go. Off with you.

Barn - After editing

Photo Editing: Before and After

Once the working day is over I can turn my focus to one of my passions, photo editing. There is something beautiful about taking a raw image and reshaping it with light and colour into something unique. It relaxes me. Frustrates me. Makes me happy and sad at the same time. Takes my mind from my worries and gives my brain some much needed down time. Photo editing and retouching are good for the soul. Getting paid for it is a bonus. Whether my style appeals to you or not, it does to me. And that’s primarily why I do it.

Case in point, during one of my frequent explorations of the Niagara region I came across this old barn which has seen, let’s be honest, better days. There must be history here. A family farm. Kids playing in the hay loft. Cattle sheltering from a winter storm. If my own youth is any guide there was probably some canoodling at some time, which may explain those kids in the hay loft.

All gone. Time passes. One day time will take it’s final toll and this piece of history will be no more.

However

Photo editing can make this barn live again. Not as it was, for that you need Photoshop, which I use daily and think of as my second home. However, that is not the feel I wanted. I wanted to see this barn in the present day, infirmities and all, with those decades of memories intact. Proud and strong despite everything nature continues to throw. Not going down without a fight. I respect that.

I wanted to give those golden memories one last, glorious summer. So I brought the sun.

For photofiles the original was shot in RAW, with a Tamron 17-55 2.8 at 1/200th sec at ISO100. Edited to personal taste in Adobe Lightroom. After having an hour or more of fun playing and trying variations I came down on the side of this one. I went for the emotion.

A little over the top? Maybe. Call it creative license. Every image is different. For me, for this image, this treatment works. For some, it may not. But that’s the amazing thing about photo editing. I can come back tomorrow and do something completely different. Same image, different feel.

Right now, this pleases me. Hits the notes I aimed for. Says what I want to say. That makes me happy.

Barb - before editingBarn - After editing
9/11 memorial, New Jersey, New York

A Little Perspective

On July 4, this photo of my wife Nikki at the 9/11 memorial in New York is a powerful reminder of how messed up this world can be. War, genocide, human rights abuse, famine… the list is long.

We live in Port Colborne, in the sleepy Niagara region of Ontario, Canada. The biggest scandal in our little corner of the world right now is that due to COVID-19, a by-law exemption allows servers to cross the street carrying cold beers to patrons on temporary outdoor patios. People on both sides of this constitutional crisis are up in arms over this issue. We clearly need more fiber in our diet.

However bad you may think things are right now in your own corner of Canada, remember that you didn’t get planes crashed into you, hit by a hurricane, flooded, killed for being different, or put under curfew. And that’s just in the shining metropolis of New York, New York.

My perspective is this: If the biggest thing on your radar lately is someone crossing the street with a beer for you, you live in a pretty great place. Smile.

We got this. Be thankful. And be happy. Peace.

9/11 memorial, New Jersey, New York