It is the process of the project that pulls my attention and fuels the passion: A Spartan's frugal and stark life of focus and integrity and the struggle to stand while stumbling down the path of personal growth and discovery.
As the Wyoming Naturalist I dream, envision, research, plan, design, finance, create, execute, develop, implement, manage, write, edit, produce, publish, market, advertise and sell a project - solo. In a project's beginning, I consider myself generally quite ignorant and know little if anything on a topic or task, so I study and learn what is needed to do the work to accomplish the goal. The method is always fraught with anxiety and pain - hours in a dimly lit room curled in the fetal position or sitting squat rocking on heels behind a half opened (not half closed) door - thinking. But eventually the wood is cut and the water is hauled.
I was born in Wyoming. With the exception of a few long months, I have always lived in Wyoming. My grandparents homesteaded about 50 miles north of where I live now. For the last 25 years I have lived less than 100 yards from where I was raised and went to school, kindergarten through high school. Native!
I bought my first 35mm camera about 40 years ago and it seems like a camera has been an extension of my hand ever since.The view I have of Wyoming from being blind in one eye fits nicely with the perspective of Wyoming that I get by looking through the viewfinder of a camera.
Photography also allowed me an easy answer to a question I occasionally heard when someone would stumble across me in a remote or isolated area. "What in the world are you doing way out here?" I could always just raise my camera in response to ease suspicions and justify my presence in the solitude.
Solitude is not something I generally seek, but it is almost always something I find. It is a result of how I live and the passions that I choose to nurture. It is not that I don't enjoy people, because I do; rather, it is that I am generally quite happy when I am alone. Being by myself is something I find natural. Being alone is not the same as being lonely.
Alone is not completely accurate because I am always with my companion – the dog. I have had five dogs (Smeagle 1, 2, 3, Mickey, and now Kirby) and if I'm lucky I'll get to have one more before I die. It could be said that it's a sorry excuse for a human who judges his personal growth by the manner in which he treats a dog, but I am a lowly creature and I will take my crumbs where I find them.