A whole year between blogs. It’s challenging to keep going. Whenever self-doubt afflicts me, when I wonder who I’m writing for, I think of my friend Page, a photographer—living the dream, doing what he wants to do—what he was put on the planet to do.
There is wisdom in accepting your limitations, but there is greater wisdom in realizing your potential.
Jim Page has led a “checkered life”— life is, after all, a series of unpredictable moves. Bold moves, strategic moves, career moves, moving house moves. A few stumbles, charges, some startling and splendid recoveries. From his hippy days on the West Coast, to his Big City sojourns as a mental health worker, Page has moved back and forth across the country following the dream.
Most of his jobs over the years have allowed him to pursue his photography, adjusting his availability to the season and to following wildlife. He is a gifted writer, and was a photo columnist and feature writer for Explore magazine for more than a dozen years. He taught at the Western Academy of Photography in Victoria BC. His photography appears in Candace Savage’s Prairie and his own book, Wild Prairie (Greystone, 2005). I count myself fortunate to have worked with him on a number of magazine articles.
When he isn’t crawling through a ditch in pursuit of the perfect image of a frog, or sprawled on a dance floor catching the color and motion of a pow-wow, he is secluded in his tiny house with the window shades drawn. He processes literally thousands of images annually. Since moving to the village a decade ago, he has been fairly single-minded in his pursuit. He lives quietly, and isn’t always visible in the village. Our Mayor, when he bumps into him on the street, still asks if he is new in town.
Page is prepared to leave town at the drop of a hat, to travel hundreds of miles to photograph bears or salmon. His favourite photo-hunting grounds are the Grassland National Park, on our doorstep. There, he captures the wildlife, in all its startling, scintillating, thought-provoking grace and power.
Approaching 70, now, he still sleeps in his car to catch an early dawn, but he has started to draw the line on the number of nights he’ll tent or rent a shabby hotel-room on a shoot. After a quarter of a century of wilderness backpacking, his knees are a wreck, but he thinks his vision is better than ever. His needs are few. He’s not interested in money or fame. Living the dream means prioritizing and giving up a few things. He gets more satisfaction from posting on his Flickr page, sharing comments with his fans and fellow-photographers, than working commercially.
So when I wonder who I’m writing for, I remember my friend, and what a gift it is to have curiosity about the world, and the skills and self-guided direction to explore it, and share the wonder.
See James R Page’s images here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pageworld/
Judith Wright is a Canadian writer interested in ordinary wisdom, that is, insight gained through everyday experience that is shared with the wider world.