OK, New Plan. Part I

In GEAR, Jessie and I, Just For Fun, News & Stuff, Travel by David76 Comments

I think we can all agree that this year went a little sideways. If things had gone to plan I’d have picked Jessie up in Atlanta over a month ago, spun through the Florida Keys, lingered for three weeks, then come up the Eastern seaboard, and back into Canada. By now I’d be heading east toward the Maritimes, finally to Newfoundland for the month of August, and onwards from there. Instead, Jessie is still in Atlanta and I’ll spend August in a rehab facility learning to walk again.

Ah, the clever plans of mice and men, eh? To be sure, it’s still been a hell of an adventure. But many of the things I wanted from it just never happened.

So we’re doing it again.

I had planned to drive Europe in 2012, but I’m sticking around a while, staying on the road, and seeking beauty on this continent for another year. It’ll be a while before I call Vancouver home again. A long while. Nomadic life agrees with me too much; I’m so much liking the idea that home is not a place, it’s people. I hope between now and then there are more chances to meet some of you for coffee, the odd meal, or just a chance encounter while we’re shooting the Golden Gate Bridge together. Give me a couple more months to get walking, and Jessie and I will be back out there, nomadic again.

As soon as I can, (late August?) I’m flying back down to Atlanta, putting the key in the ignition (where the hell are those keys, anyways?) and we’re driving back here to Ottawa to re-group. I’ve got a busy fall so between travels to Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Mexico, Honduras, Argentina and Antarctica, I’ll have time to re-outfit her and get ready for the next stage, which is, for the most part, heading south again, to see the Florida Keys, then west and I’m planning to really, actually, no screwing around this time, spend some quality time in the West. Arizona. Utah. New Mexico. Wyoming. Colorado, California. I just missed too much this time. Had too little time to photograph what I had hope to, or meet the people I wanted to. Too rushed. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned this year, both in life and art – it’s to SLOW. DOWN.

In the few months on the road with Jessie, I was the most content I’ve been in years and years. In that perfect beautiful place where challenges slightly outstrip my comfort levels. Where all my clothes fit into one duffle bag. Where I woke up to the wilderness and the weather as the sun rose. Where my daily plans are heavily subject to serendipity. And I want to keep doing this. This adventure is too beautiful – even with the broken feet and cracked pelvis – not to keep at it and finish what I started. I’ve never seen with such clarity. Never breathed so deeply. Never met so many people out of the clear blue that I was just genuinely curious about and enjoyed.

If the fall in Italy gave me one thing, it’s the reminder that life is short and desperately – unpredictably – fragile. Recovery hasn’t come easy, but then neither do our dreams. Whatever it means to you; keep living the dream. We’ve only got one life to live and you’re the only one who’s going to make it happen. Sure the days go by on their own, and too fast, but an intentional life, like a photograph, is something we make. Each day do something, ANYTHING, that gets you closer. Or stop doing something – anything – that stands in your way. If that means traveling the world, or taking the time to go make those photographs you’ve been thinking about, or finally teaching your daughter to use a camera, or finally printing and hanging your work for the world – and you – to see, do it today. Tomorrow is guaranteed to no one.

To change one’s life:  Start immediately.  Do it flamboyantly.  No exceptions.
~William James


  1. A meal and a bottle of wine await in the Tetons or along the Oregon Coast!

  2. I hope you never tire of people saying the same thing over and over to you… Though I prefer to think of myself as completely unique and original (don’t we all want to think of ourselves that way?!)…apparently I am one of many, many…who appreciate your keen awareness of the importance of being fully awakened by life and in life.

  3. OK David. First off, hope you’re well my friend. You’re in my prayers as you recover.

    I realize people say this all the time to you. But know what you know about my life, you really have been an inspiration to me these past two years. I’m doing things I never thought I could do. Traveling the world, making what I think are awesome images and memories, teaching my daughter how to use a camera and the idea of creativity. And of course, not taking things for granted.

    Good plan brother. Remember, if you’re ever in Seattle, you have a meal waiting for you at my table. Peace to you…and Jessie.


  4. David,
    As per your usual, this is a great and insightful post.
    I did not physically “fall off a wall” but metaphorically got hit by a train.
    Your work and your writings are an inspiration to me.
    I’ve gradually picked up the pieces that are important to me and am slowly beginning to put these pieces together to form a new beginning to this new life which has been thrust at me so fiercely.
    Your strength and courage has given me strength and courage to move forward and maybe even ramp it up a bit.
    {after all, there is nothing wrong with my feet!}

    Happy Healing!

  5. Hey, David:
    Wish you all the best on your way to a full recovery! When you make your way west again, we have plenty of room for you in the Reno/Sparks area. No need to spend your money on a hotel. We’re just a short drive to Tahoe! Peace of mind be with you, Kyle

  6. Great post as always.
    So glad to hear you are keeping the wanderlust alive and continuing your travels.
    I so look forward to seeing and hearing about your adventures in the Southwest and the Florida Keys.

  7. No need to feel badly. It’s not an imposition. We don’t feel like we are babysitting. Are you kidding? I have “woman-to-woman” talks with her all the time!

  8. Author

    Vivian – I was just thinking about you guys and Jessie. Feeling badly for everyone involved. I hope she’s behaving and not making a nuisance of herself. I’m healing as fast as I can! 🙂 Can’t wait to come get her. Thank you sooo much for babysitting.

  9. I talked to Jessie this morning. She said to tell you to hurry up and come back for her. She really misses you;-)

  10. Wow you rock! Love your work and your writing! Such an amazing writer! All the best in your recovery and next adventures! 🙂 Blessings

  11. This post, as many of yours do, hit very close to home for me. After receiving “Vision Mongers” from Zack, I did a lot of thinking and introspection. I took a break and got things together, health-wise, so I could finally realize my vision. It took a bit longer than I had planned… two years… that Murphy!… but I have stayed the course. Thank you for your inspiration, even when times have been chaotic and dark for you.

    You will kick arse in rehab. Feel free to curse often and profusely. I did and it helped. Even silly words, such as my favorite “petunia!!!”, help relieve stress and add levity to a sucktacular situation. Not going to lie to you. Physical rehab sucks. But is anyone can do it, and do it well, you can. You have many cheerleaders with the most silly looking pompoms ever in the wings.

    When you get to Atlanta, we need to have a Bon Voyage party for you and Jessie. A proper sendoff for the next part of your journey.

  12. Keep us posted David. I would love to know when you get back down to the Atlanta area. Would love to meet you and shake your hand. I am about 3 hours away from Atlanta.

  13. I met the inimitable Mr duChemin only very, very briefly last year. Though our time together was short, the effects of our discussions were much longer lasting.

    Next week I’m hopping on a plane from Vancouver B.C., heading out to Hawaii, and I’m going to sail back to L.A. with a small crew on a beautiful 52′ Santa Cruz sailboat.

    One of my life ambitions – a huge stretch goal – one of bucket list have-to-do’s, is rapidly becoming a reality.

    When we chatted, we agreed, ‘Adventure is out there!’ [grinning] …. and if you’re too distracted or fearful to get off the sofa, or leave the office behind, you might miss some pretty neat stuff.

    Heal well David – and please say ‘hi!’ to Jessie for me 😉

  14. An intentional life… awesomeness. And if you’re ever in the Hamilton, Ontario area intentionally or otherwise, let us know… you have a group of fans here that would love to simply shake yer hand and buy you a coffee! Best wishes on the coming physio David 🙂

  15. You are such an inspiration. Everytime I read a blog post of yours it’s like you are talking directly to me, and it’s usually what I need to hear. Thanks. If you ever make it to Calgary be good to meet you.

  16. You are always welcomed at our house in Longmont, Colorado, just outside Boulder, if you make it this way.

  17. Oh David, I love your plan except your missing my state…work that in so we can get a boat ride in! 🙂 It’s a beautiful lake we have here…

  18. Bless you! Your travel schedule is daunting. Much admiration as you go through rehab and prepare for your upcoming adventures. Thanks for sharing.

  19. Hi David,

    Please let us know when you are in Atlanta, would definitely to touch base when you are here, atleast for one cup of chai…

  20. Hi David, i writing to you from a little town called Cassis in Provence, my dear wife offer me your book “Vision Mongers” i think 2 years ago when we was living in Montreal, i have read it i love it, you words have hit my spirit of photographer so hard… so and then last week ago i take you book out of my library, read some pages and came here where i just read about you incredible accident in Italy….so choked….you’re alive and it is amazing…hope you recovering well.
    Sorry about my english…:)
    Without wanting to disturb you because i know now you need some rest and you are i’m sure very busy i would like to have some advise form you about the situation my craft is in (that means my family and me to) now that we moved here in France….ok back when we was living in Canada i was making a reasonable living out of my photography work but now than we are here in France, it’s the mass and BIG money crises here, even more in the south, people buy nothing anymore, even i have worked so hard nights and days to bring my website up to the firth place on Google in my area, i’m straggling so hard that i’m at the limit to not be able to live and feed my family with my business, i am nearly bankruptcy….i literately want to cry because it my heart, my love and my passion and most of everything this is the only thing i know how to do well.
    So many question about what i should do to save the boat!
    I don’t know if i realy have a question form you but i guess i needed to take it of my chest.

    Anyway….ouf….sorry about that David and thank you kindly for your attention, hope to talk to you one of those days.

    Friendly, Michael.

  21. Teaching “Realizing your Vision with Photoshop Elements” tonight. Matting photos for exhibit tomorrow. Leading camera club meeting on Wednesday. Teaching again “Creative Exposure” at the end of the month. Thanks to the day job for the finances, thanks to the community for the energy to use those finances on my passion.

  22. Plan sounds awesome. I am jealous of all of the places you are going to get to see, people you are going to meet and experiences you will have.

    And of course your advice is spot on. Just had two buddies from back in High School die tragically within two weeks (in unrelated events). Both around 41 years old had families and children they leave behind. Life is so short. And can be shorter at any given point in time. So easy to take things for granted when we absolutely shouldn’t.

    If time permits and you are up to it, definitely think about stopping off at Zach’s again when you come to get Jessie. Another beer and hangout session would be great.

  23. Thanks for the update David. Good to hear where your plans will be taking you and good to see the example you have set with how to cope when things beyond our control change our plans. The thing that help keeps me sane when progress seems slow is your advice to “do something every day that moves you towards your dream.” Too often we feel that only great, decisive leaps will move us to our dreams. Not true. It is the many small steps that get us there.

  24. I think you have a very good plan. I thought it was a shame how you had to rush through places last time, and only had a few days in places like Lake Tahoe. Of course you can never have enough time in some of the beautiful places both in the US and elsewhere, I mean look at Ansel Adams, he spent a life time shooting Yosemite.
    As a suggestion, take it or leave it, but I think you might really enjoy doing a road trip through Australia. My wife and I took a month to drive between Perth and Darwin, about 6,500kms, and it was such a wonderful trip. The scenery is amazing, plentiful camping, and very friendly if scarce people.

    In any case I hope you continue to recover well and start making the wonderful images that have brought most of us here.


  25. David, I wonder if you ever think about the fact that, in a sense, you’ve become the preacher/minister/priest that you originally envisioned yourself as when you went to theology school? Here’s what just occurred to me: This (blog etc) is your pulpit and the photographers that follow you are your congregation. 🙂 Your church is worldwide and your influence is widespread through the channels reached by the numerous folks who read your blog and take the messages to heart. The ripple effect is huge.

    Its funny how those things that we think we’ve left behind reveal something new about what we were doing and what we THOUGHT we were doing when we look back at them.

    Thanks for all of your inspiring words and the example of courage that you share. The content is really universal. Even if you were to leave out all of the bits related to photography (at least in this case) the message would be just as relevant and important. I can’t wait to see what’s next on the journey. Maybe there should be a separate webpage for people to write about their David inspired adventures????

  26. Great post to read. I cannot agree more with you. Good luck with rehab; I am sure you’ll get through admirably but there are likely to be some bumps nevertheless… Hang in there! 😉

  27. Jealous about the trip to SE Asia. I spent 7 months in Laos back in 2004-2005 and have been dying to get back there.

    If you do happen to make it to the Maritimes drop me a line if you’re in the Halifax area.

  28. Glad to hear you’re going to slow it down next time. It’s all about the journey. Best not to get too goal-oriented or you miss the best part.

  29. Thank you for the last part. I hear it many times but I think it can never be said enough. Each time is a great push to get that next thing done.
    Hope you stop by in NJ/NYC!

  30. Great to hear about the new plans.
    Both you and Jessie will soon be rolling, stargazing and…inspiring the muses.
    Vera Reis

  31. Go David, Go! You have a lot of us living vicariously through your adventures.

  32. Your words and life are so encouraging and motivating. Thank you for the continual perspective adjustment that I seem to need. Looking forward to your revovery and continued adventure.

  33. Awesome, great to hear you talking about picking up where you left off already! Inspiring stuff, keep pushing us…

  34. Let us know when you’re driving through South Carolina! We South Carolinians have some beautiful territory here!

  35. It’s been said many times, but you are an inspiration. You’ve got a good meal and decent banter in Central NJ if you make it this way…

  36. David, It’s been inspirational reading about this unplanned journey of yours and your thoughts as you have gone through it. I’m looking forward to the planned journey now (with Jessie)! Life throws at us things which forces us to re-evaluate priorities and where we are and where we need to go and you’ve embraced this current leg of that bumpy journey admirably.

    I hope to catch up with you here in AZ at some point!

  37. David, you have to let us know when you head back to Atlanta to pick up Jesse. Would love to hang out again, and there are plenty of beautiful places in Georgia to park her for a night or two.

  38. The planning sounds wonderful.

    “I’m so much liking the idea that home is not a place, it’s people.” Not so sure about this. I believe that home is when you are comfortable with yourself and can be alone. Home is inside your head. People are the decorations and added warmth, but the moments of clarity I’ve had have been when it’s just me. Being nomadic, away from family and friends, having to adapt to change, different conditions and cultures without all of those additional supports that other people provide really gave me the strength and desire to continue the adventure.

    The friendship and warmth you find when living a nomadic life come because we have become comfortable enough with ourselves to be open and willing to be curious about others and to embrace difference. It’s a wonderful lifestyle. Long may you live it!!

    Good luck with the rehab – knowing Jessie is waiting is a great incentive – one step closer to climbing into the cab, one day closer to driving off into the wild. She needs to wear out, not rust out!

  39. Words of wisdom: “Stop doing something…” I have learned to enjoy each day as it comes, letting tomorrow take care of itself. And I’m happier for it.

  40. Huge admiration re: the tone of the readjusted plan. Having a dream, a plan, but demonstrating how to keep it alive and breathing according to what’s happening in the moment, not forced into a stubborn stronghold . . . . is cool t be part of. We here are thrilled to be packed along with you on your journey. Thanks for doing what it takes to be clear. Thanks for breathing deeply. Onward to the next. We’re SO with you.

  41. It’s all been said, but I couldn’t agree more…your positive attitude and spirit are such a joy and inspiration David and we salute you for contemplating, planning and moving forward…cheers and all the best to you (and Jessie!) as you continue the healing process and get back in the saddle again 🙂

  42. Hey… if you need a co-driver or shot-gun rider…. I’d be glad to lend a helping hand… it would help me reach one of my goals too… 🙂 and if you are ever in Winnipeg… we have an extra driveway for Jessie and could easily arrange that coffee and provide an “odd meal”… any meal with my boys is a bit odd

  43. It’s good to hear that you are planning again. If you are going to be in the neighborhood, the Adirondacks are beautiful in late Sept/early Oct. They’re beautiful anytime but especially so at that time of year. Send me an email if you’d like to meet in the mountains.

  44. Road trip! You’ll have to let me know when you get to Atlanta. The South has a remarkable understated beauty. It’s a great place to start a new adventure. Of course, living in the Atlanta area, I am not biased in anyway whatsoever 🙂

  45. The quote at the end says it all!!
    Keep getting healthy and get out of Ottawa before the snow comes.

    By my estimates the snow will be arriving about Thursday 🙂

  46. Can’t wait for you to get back out on your journey Dave and hope the rehab goes well! Great advise too – I need that kind of inspiration! Thanks!

  47. To quote John Lennon; “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans”. Glad to see your still busy making other plans.

  48. May the force be with you!! 🙂 I guess this means your spirit healed and your body is also healing. I’m honestly happy and amazed by you. BTW. That first photo of Jessie in the woods would make a gr8 wallpaper. It catches the spirit of this post. The travel, the mystery…. Get well. Kick life’s ass!

  49. Happy to hear you’re making new plans! I hope I’ll get the chance to buy you a coffee/beer/meal sometime here in Europe. Your books and teachings have given me a lot and I’m following your recovery through every blog post.

  50. Glad to hear you plan to tour the US again but I think you should strongly consider traveling up the east coast again – beautiful country!

  51. Good thinking, I hope it goes smooth as a dream. I know how you felt; I drove round Australia in the late ’60s and felt really alive! Now, over 40 years later, I have the chance to do it again soon. Retirement from work and child-raising has re-presented the opportunities. The spirit is very willing; hope the body can keep up. If I had discovered your philosophical musings earlier I’d have started planning earlier. I am inspired by your writing and thank you for it. I printed out many of your articles for my children. You say all I’ve want to tell them better than I can express it myself. I wish you happy travels and robust health.

  52. Good luck with the new plan. May it be as varied as you want it to be and give you a happier adventure than the one you are currently going through.

  53. “…an intentional life, like a photograph, is something we make”. Wow, that’s a quote that I will keep close at hand, David. Thank you for this post, and I am happy you share so much with us!

  54. Wow, what an awesome post! So happy to read about your new plan and inspired so much by your last paragraph. Thank you and I look forward to following you on your new journey!

  55. Good thinking. I know how you felt; I drove round Australia in the late ’60s and felt really alive! Now, over 40 years later, I have the chance to do it again soon. Retirement from work and child-raising has re-presented the opportunities. The spirit is very willing; hope the body can keep up. If I had read your philosophical musings earlier I’d have started planning earlier. I am inspired by your writing and thank you for it. I printed out many of your articles for my children. You say all I want to tell them better than I can express it. I wish you happy travels and robust health.

  56. Amen David! 🙂

    Glad you’re putting your plans back together, much respect. Too many people would take such an event as an excuse *not* to do things. I admire your guts, resilience and hunger for something better.

    Ps Antarctica – wow, awesome!

  57. Glad to hear you are on the mend and planning for the future. Best of luck with the ongoing recovery, and if you hit southern New Hampshire and need a place to crash … er … stop over, just let me know. 🙂

  58. Love that ‘Jessie 2012’ banner! Though I love your attitude even more. Thanks for this post – it left me smiling and feeling heartened.

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