My daughter is wild about penguins. I’m pretty sure her room is stuffed with more penguins than are actually in Antarctica. I can’t remember how or why her love of penguins began; it seems to have always been a part of who she is. Put simply, penguins are her passion.
For her birthday, our family surprised my daughter with a backstage penguin encounter at the Riverbanks Zoo. There are no words to capture the raw emotion experienced when a dream manifests itself into reality. The world stops spinning and nothing exists but love and perfection of the moment. Those few moments she had with the penguins fueled her passion tenfold and only confirmed what her heart already knew...she is going to be a “protector of penguins” when she grows up.
Lately, I’ve been struggling with my passions. I’ve been trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. I wish I had that one clear passion that burned so deeply inside of me there was no question what it is I’m supposed to be doing with my life. The problem is I love so many things I get overwhelmed and easily distracted. I’m passionate about family, fitness, teaching, environment, arts, relationships and a million other things. The good news is I am actively engaged in all of those things, but lately I have felt as if something was missing. I felt as if I was supposed to be doing more, being more, pursuing more, only, I had no clue what that “more” was. I did the only thing I knew to do- I asked for guidance and I went on a run.
There is something to be said for the quiet moments in between the pounding of lungs and feet on a run. A space opens up and distractions melt away. It was in this space that I found my something missing. And clear as a bell it hit me; photography is my penguin passion. I knew from the first moment I picked up my camera that I wanted to change the world with my photography. Only, I let fear, insecurity, and doubt keep me from pursuing it. How can I change the world through photography when I’ve never had formal training? What pictures could I take that could serve in making the world a better place? I was never going to be a National Geographic photographer so what good was it holding on to this crazy passion? And I listened to the fear voices. And listening made me miserable.
It’s hard to kick fear in the face when it grabs hold of you around the throat and chokes your passions away. Fear is a fierce fighter. Fear arms itself with insecurities and doubts and when we forget faith, fear wins. With faith (and some knowledgeable friends to remind us along the way), however, we rediscover our passions and set forth on the path we were created for.
So how can I change the world with my photography? On March 9th I will be offering free portraits at Kadi Fit in exchange for a donation to The Kilgoris Project. Hopefully, one portrait at a time, we can build a school in Africa. I can take part in daily gratitude projects reminding people of the power of gratitude and miracles in everyday moments. This weekend I captured some special moments of a boy feeding birds at the zoo. His mom didn’t have her camera so I emailed her my shots. Did I change the world? Probably not. Did I make the world a little brighter for one person? I like to think so, and it starts there. It starts now.
It starts when compassion and passion merge together and we regain our vision of taking what we love and use it to make the world a better place, one little moment at a time. When we use what we love to serve others, fear can’t exist and fear can’t win. No doubt I will need to be reminded of that many times as this dream manifests itself into reality, as I continue my struggle of kicking fear in the face, and as I pursue my penguin passion. If you haven’t already discovered yours, I invite you to share this journey of pursuing penguin passions with me as we move forward grounded in faith, family, and friendship along the way. Leave your penguin passion in the comments below and let's waddle on together!
Enjoy this small slideshow of our Riverbanks Zoo experience...music by Bon Jovi "Welcome to Wherever You Are"