(All photos in this post taken by the author with a variety of camera gear, primarily Nikon DSLR bodies ranging from D-200 on the low end, to D-3 on the high end.)
I was born lucky. It was a matter of timing and era, but I was born lucky.
The 1800’s would have been cool, for a day or two. Wooden bridges that lead into vast stretches of forest. Everybody has a horse and they all know how to ride it. I would have worn my gun outside my pants for all the honest world to fear, just like Poncho did, according to the legend. I have a feeling I would start missing electricity and antiperspirant after about three August days in Alabama, but man I would have rocked the scene for a day or two.
I could pick a century out of a hat and find a reason to want to be there – for a few days. Try to deny your desire to spend a week in ancient Egypt. Ok, maybe 24 hours. Pyramid building is hard work, unless, of course, you have alien help, but that’s another blog.
I have to confess though, I can’t imagine being born and living in a better era than the one I find myself stuck in. Assuming Marty and Doc don’t show up at my door needing plutonium any minute, it is likely I will stay right where I am on the time line, and I guess I have a lot to be thankful for. I guess I was just born lucky.
Clearly, the idea for my birth came about sometime in the late summer, or early fall of 1974. I was born in the late spring of ’75. I like to think I was the result of a substantial amount of Budweiser following a fight over the checkbook or the amount of gas in the car. I like to think this because it is the only way I can explain how Budweiser, the checkbook, and gas in the car have been recurring themes in my life for 39 years.
It put me in a very lucky spot though, for too many reasons to count. I don’t give up easily though, thus humor me as I count a few.
For starters, I grew up in the 80s. If that isn’t reason enough to claim victory over life, I don’t know what is. Still close enough to the 60s to live them through your parents without actually having to take LSD and deal with the risks therein.
I was born at a time that allowed me to have a grandfather who was part of World War II. I have met many of the men who fought in that war and I find it a blessing to share this period of time with them. We lose a few of these national treasures every day and I feel so fortunate to have known so many and had the chance to hear, and help tell, their stories through my work in the Navy.
My three-year-old son was born right into the most recent boom of technology. He can use an electronic tablet or smartphone as well as many adults, and better than some. While that is fun to see as a dad, I feel so lucky to have been born at a time when I could witness, first hand, the evolution of these technologies and experience the awe of each one as they came into existence. It is so easy to take technology for granted, when much of it is such an amazing feat of human ingenuity.
Just five years either side of my birth and the likelihood of ever knowing and marrying my wife would have been roughly zero. This is perhaps the luckiest thing that has happened to me as a result of my birth date. Going on 19 years of marriage, the coins just keep falling in the tray, my triple sevens still flashing on the slots after all this time. Adding to the pot, she makes a terrific mother, which means my luck is already being passed on to my son, the three-year-old computer geek.
I had the good fortune of being born just in time to get into the Navy, or I suppose you could look at it that way. Waiting until I was 33 to decide to start the process of enlisting might have been a bad idea, but luck was on my side and I finished boot camp and A-school 10 days prior to my 35th birthday (the age cutoff without a waiver), unlocking tremendous adventure and opportunity for me.
As a Navy photographer serving in the golden age of photographic technology, I have had the chance to witness, and photograph, things that would make your heart race, make your heart warm, and make your heart break. I have witnessed the beginning of life and the end of it as a member of the U.S. Navy.
I photographed my biggest childhood fear, the Russian military, landing on my ship at sea. Later, I reassured close friends who were deployed and worried that new disagreements with that same Russia would prevent them from coming home from deployment on time. I know that luck is on my side, and I will see the pendulum swing again, but I don’t know when.
I was born at a time when medical technology would allow my son to not only know three out of four of my own grandparents, but also would allow him to know and love a great grandmother and great grandfather who both survived cancer. Indeed, my luck is already rubbing off on him.
Although I live in a world where all of my old dirt roads are turning into super speedways, I can still find those places of refuge where a nail and a chain make a sufficient lock.
I still have the opportunity to learn to drive, and use, the same tractor my grandfather plowed his field with, and my son will have that opportunity as well.
Despite what you hear on television by people who know the value of selling controversy, I know I still live in a time where nature is thriving and beautiful. I feel so fortunate to have the chance to photograph, and just be near so many beautiful natural settings. I want to pass that love of nature down to my son, and with any luck, he will accept it.
Right now, he is content to build a train station with Legos and show me he can count to ten. I am so lucky to have him, and I want him to be lucky too. He will never understand how great it was to be alive in the 80s. That is just how it is supposed to be.
But if he someday feels about his era the way I feel about mine, I’ll consider that a win. The odds look pretty good. Like I said, I was born lucky.