In 2018, I resolved the following: to make more portraits, learn to make biscuits from scratch, be a better advocate for women, start running again, write more, spend less time on social media, and to do an assignment for The New York Times.
I don’t know if I made more portraits, but I thought more about the kind of portraits I want to make. OK, maybe I made more portraits. But I’m still learning to make the kind of portraits I want to make.
I didn’t learn to make biscuits from scratch. I’ll likely keep that on my list for 2019.
I tried to be a better advocate for women and to be more mindful of the privilege afforded me by my gender and race. Let me tell you, there is no turning back once you start doing this. I’m better for it and I’m thankful to those closest to me who have given me room to grow.
I didn’t start running again, but I’m feeling the urge. I doubt I wrote more. I doubt I spent less time on social media.
I didn’t do an assignment for The New York Times, but I did do assignments for The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg Businessweek, and Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown. I had work published with ESPN. I did an assignment for NPR (even thought the images were never used). And I completely blew a single-image, quick-turnaround assignment because I didn’t have an SD card in my camera.
Here are some of the things that made 2018 memorable for me:
I took my best friend to Butcher Holler, the home of Loretta Lynn.
I was awarded an honorary certificate in Digital Appalachian Studies from Shawnee State University.
I asked my best friend to marry me on the hill where I spent my childhood and she said yes.
I swam in a river and paddled a few lakes.
I turned around to go back and make pictures.
I stood naked on top of a mountain under an approaching thunderstorm.
I listened as grandparents cried and recounted their struggle adopting their grandchildren because their daughter was addicted and not able to care for them.
I watched the best sunset of the year in a Piggly Wiggly parking lot in Milton, West Virginia.
I downsized. I moved. I let go. And I held on.
I listened. I cried. I laughed. I laughed until I cried. I was wrong often and more quick to apologize. I was proud, but not like the kind in the Bible that turns you bad.
I learned I’ll be a grandfather. My grandfather shaped my world and the thought of bearing that awesome responsibility is hard to put into words.
I woke up with my best friend 363 out of 365 mornings.
I am thankful for every day I am gifted.