KY/NC/TN - Brent Goes Outside
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Liquid Courage

Great Smoky Mountains National Park (TN)

Happy New Year’s everybody! I hope you’re feeling good this morning.

"Isn't it funny how day by day nothing changes but when we look back everything is different..." - C.S Lewis

2017 was an important year for me. As with any span of time it had its fair share of ups and downs, but compared to past years I felt I was better equipped to handle them. The more years that pass me by, the more I realize the truth in that you “can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.” The bad stuff will happen no matter how much you try to prevent it, and the good stuff will eventually cease no matter how tightly you cling to it. At first it was a bitter pill to swallow and seemed like a pessimistic outlook on life. As I let it simmer, it was actually quite liberating - all the effort I spent avoiding some things and chasing others could be saved and used elsewhere. I could more consciously choose my reaction to things. I found that being calm and intentional about my reactions generally resulted in a better outcome than being hasty and impulsive. I could be more compassionate toward myself and others.

Realizing that, the only thing left for me to do was to sit back and watch the show. In fact, the more observing I did, the more it seemed that the labels “good” and “bad” can be unnecessary or even inaccurate.
Exhibit A: A tree fell on my car during a storm (and no one was hurt). There was lots of costly damage to the body that needed to be repaired. That’s “bad,” but I decided that sitting around and being angry about the past would be unproductive. Instead, I calmly handled the matter as was appropriate and carried on - no energy wasted on negative emotion. A couple of friends helped me move the tree off my car in the pouring rain, and looking back it was a heartwarming and unique experience!
Exhibit B: In April I had an incredible experience hiking for a few days in nature in California. Not only was it productive photographically, but on that particular trip I felt I had some indescribable epiphanies about how to live my life that still resonate with me today. That’s “good,” but at the same time I know that those kinds of experiences cannot be forced. I can’t plan to have one again, and any striving or grasping for them will only lead to disappointment when I don’t get what I want. I am so glad to have those realizations, but I don’t waste too much energy trying to force them again.

This isn’t to say I endorse numbing yourself, becoming unambitious or ignoring how you feel about your situation - rather, the contrary! Invest your whole self into the process of living right now and learn to enjoy the labor of creation whether it’s creating a work of art, performing tedious chores, or living your life minute by minute. If you truly love the journey, then the outcome of your labor will have no negative effect on you and you will feel satisfied knowing you gave it your all, and that each moment was savored as it happened. Learn from the past but do not ruminate on it. Build for the future but don’t obsess over it. For example, I take thousands upon thousands of awful photos that never see the light of day. Sometimes I beat myself up when they aren’t perfect or the gap between my visualization of the finished product and the outcome itself is too disparate, but after more time has passed and I’ve gained more perspective I almost always realize that just being in the creative mindset was very fulfilling and worth the effort.

I would say that I am very much a “resolution” person, because I continually resolve to better myself as an ongoing process. I am historically not a “New Year’s Resolution” person, because I find that it works best if I am genuinely inspired to improve myself for the sake of doing it, rather than forcing myself at a particular point in the earth’s orbit around the sun. However, I think something has been brewing in me lately and after a bit of self-reflection this week I came up with a resolution worthy of a public declaration: I want to be more courageous. I want to cultivate the courage to unabashedly live the life I want to live and be the person I want to be. Photographically, I want the courage to create the imagery that effectively express how I feel inside (whether explicit to the viewer or not) and share them with everybody. I literally have over 40 finished photos I’ve taken and painstakingly edited and re-edited over the past 3 years that are sitting in a private album. I love a lot of them and feel some of them are among my best work and representative of how I feel inside, but regrettably I have not have the courage to feel vulnerable enough to post them. Many of them are different than my past work or the most popular photos by others and I’m not sure if anyone will like them. Well, to hell with it. Here’s one of them. It is an abstract photo of a river I took this autumn in Tennessee. I like it.

See more photos, find social media links, and get digital wallpapers and prints at

Thanks for looking!

Captured: October 2017
Camera: Nikon D610
Lens: Tamron 150-600mm f/5.6-6.3
Settings: ISO400, 280mm, f/5.6, 1/500 sec

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