What Lies Ahead?

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Self Portrait, Joshua Tree National Park, California, USA

Self Portrait, Joshua Tree National Park, California, USA

The desert is a harsh setting. Only the adapted and fortunate survive. Lessons have to be learned quickly. Decisions carry serious consequences.

National parks and monuments in the desert are good places for contemplation. The landscapes are enormous and the mind can wander farther than the views. You are not distracted by artificial urgencies. The commercial world is not represented.

The desert allows a person to sort through the experiences of the past and evaluate the lessons that should have been learned. It is also a perfect setting for clearly thinking ahead and planning the future, if you can plan the future. You can at least decide on a path. Sometimes you will have to adapt to changing conditions, but the lessons previously learned can help you be prepared to deal with unexpected challenges, with integrity. Your values help you focus on the things of lasting importance so you can keep moving forward.

Of course none of us knows what lies ahead. Each of us plays our small but pivotal role within our family and community. If we are fortunate we are also supported by family and friends.

The reason for this philosophical post is that for the first time since I retired in January 2010 I can look ahead and plan my path with more freedom. Over the past several months I have been working under a contract to edit and prepare training material for a satellite image processing course. This was an activity that I was working on when I retired. Fortunately, it was one of my favorite parts of my work and I got to work with good friends.

Last week we held the training course in Texas. The participants were great to work with and it was fun. It is reassuring to interact with dedicated people who will lead innovation in the work that you spent your career on. I will probably help teach the course again next winter, but it definitely feels like I have completed that work. I may  continue to support that satellite remote sensing  and digital soil mapping work periodically.

But this is the start of a new path. I was fortunate to have had a challenging career filled with what I thought was useful work. Now the photography and maps will be the main focus.

I start this path with a new photo exhibit in a local wine tasting room in the beautiful seaside town of Trinidad, California. The opening reception was yesterday at Moonstone Crossing Tasting Room. My wife and I both have art on exhibit there and it was fun to spend the afternoon with our friends talking about our endeavors.

My path ahead includes this blog, so I hope that you enjoy the brief travel escapes. Today I have been more philosophical, but I will generally focus on travel stories. We will also travel on dedicated photo excursions. The next subjects will be southern Spain, Morocco, and Italy. I will continue to work on my website and develop new and custom map products. I will also work on new local images for photo note cards.

And, of course, I will continue to treasure my wife, our two wonderful daughters, and our families. The lessons that I have learned have taught me that the consequence of that decision is a contented and meaningful life. They help me adapt and enjoy the path.

Pardon me for the personal nature of this post. The photo is in Joshua Tree National Park and is a self portrait.

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