Roaming the Badlands in the heat of a summer day can be a daunting experience at the best of times, and i's especially daunting if you're a photographer with the hopes of finding a landscape image that will convey the area's vitality. After all, when you're smack dab in the middle of some dried up piece of barren land that includes the word bad in its title, what's the likelihood that you're going to find any life, let alone capture any artistic representations of life? Slim to none, right? Well, slim or none, I was willing to set out on a journey of hope to see if life can indeed prevail against all odds.
Before the venture had gotten underway, I stood where the car was parked and had gotten a feel for the day. The last thing I wanted to do was drop from heat exhaustion because I'd chosen extra camera lens instead of water bottles. So, with bare essentials determined, and backs packed, I headed out towards what is called the 'Hoodoos'.
While on the trail the first things that I encountered were some sarcastic thoughts, "Whoa, she's pretty dry. What's the best you're going to find on the surface of this no man's land ― an old fossilized bone lying around?" Clearly it was going to be difficult to silence the ego mind this time as it truly did look bleak. The best I could do was laugh over the idea of finding a dinosaur bone, since it was possible, but likely. I believe that the archeologists would tell me that I would need a 'dig' for that. No wonder, as there isn't anything on the surface of this type of landscape, other than evidence of what the sun, lack of water and dry, dirty winds can do over the course of time.
As the day wore on and I wandered over the earth's crusty body, I had begun to notice feelings of empathy for her. I too seemed to be experiencing the same dismal effects of the dry air. The surface of my skin and lips had started to crack and my mouth tasted like a dust bowl. At one point, while noticing how lethargic I was becoming, I thought eating a power bar would give me that burst of energy I needed to keep going. But, to no avail. It just made me feel thirstier. “No wonder there's no life here. How can one thrive in this? This is discouraging. Might as well call it a day. Blast the sun!”
As I headed back in the direction where the car was parked, I pondered on how the environment had physically gotten to me. It didn't offer me anything. In fact, it was life draining, instead of life giving, and that had left me uninspired.
What followed next, in my mind, was what stopped me in my tracks. I suddenly realized how much I was playing the 'blame your circum-stance' game. That wasn't what I'm about. Sure, the circumference that my stance was in definitely looked like a lost cause, however, that didn't mean that I had to become a lost cause too. I didn't have to give my mind permission to drop into the same state of decline that I physically was in. I had options.
So, I re-hydrated and I re-turned, literally and figuratively, back in the direction of hope. And wouldn't you know it, right there in the middle of the path that I had just walked over, was thee photo. I had been so caught up at looking at how bad it was, that I hadn't even seen what was there all along – Life.
In the end, another way to be optimistic is another way.
Note: The photo is now in the poster above. The quote came to me back at the studio when I was wondering how I could turn the image into an inspirational poster.