Keeping On

Yesterday was Bob Dylan’s 75th birthday. A friend posted the following line from one of his songs: “The only thing I knew how to do, was to keep on keeping on, like a bird that flew.” (Tangled up in Blue)

Bob Dylan, born Robert Allen Zimmerman, was raised in a small, desolate mining town not far from where I grew up in Minnesota. Despite his gruff singing voice and being ridiculed by peers, Bob had a vision. An avid poet, he put his lines to music and followed that vision, eventually becoming one of the most consequential songwriters of our time.

Since first picking up a camera nearly twenty years ago, I have followed a vision of creating and sharing the wonder of the natural world through photographs. In recent years, I have learned to put ego aside, express gratitude for beautiful opportunities and celebrate every successful endeavor, no matter how big or small it may seem. Eking out a living as an artist, adventurer, or any other non-traditional pursuit, requires more than talent, it takes passion and persistence in the face of overwhelming doubt. Often times, there is no clear path going forward or guide as to how to earn a living as a professional photographer. I will always have vocational skills and a college degree to fall back on, and there have been periods when I was resigned to the notion that I should put all this aside and get a “real job" for lack of a better term, knowing that it would be easier to make ends meet but simultaneously drain my soul, which brings me to this bald eagle image. I took this seventeen years ago, around the same time that I declined a very secure career offer with the federal government, to pursue a dream. Two years later it became my first magazine cover. The issue also included a feature story about me (An eye for Nature). A month or so after being published, I learned that it quickly became their best-selling issue to date. The news came on a day that I was feeling despondent and unsure about my future. It was the catalyst I needed that day, to “keep on keeping on” and remain open to opportunities that present themselves, lining the pathway to fulfilling not just a dream, but also a vision and a purpose.

Happy birthday, Bob. Thank you for keeping on and not losing sight of your vision.