Monday, March 12, 2012

Primal Wilderness Rambling From Tough Times

Few would have guessed I was a reflective person when I was young. I grew up in a trailer without running water in the Colorado mountains. School was the antithesis to what I considered freedom. When I willfully paid no attention in class, I found myself accused of Attention Deficit Disorder. Later, I spent time in a juvenile detention center and dropped out of high school. By fifteen, I was on my own.

Strangely, this path led to personal reflection. I soon learned that life is a challenge not to be taken lightly. I became a firefighter, then transitioned into being a paramedic after I broke my back. My injury, as well as my career in emergency medicine, reinforced and refined what I had learned early on. There is much fragility in life and in a breath, it’s over. Being a paramedic taught me the value of every breath and inspired me to see the world.

My travels have included a mix of personal and work assignments as a remote site medic for industrial companies. Two locations have impacted my life like no others: Sudan and Afghanistan. The people in both places taught me a great deal about the inherent value of human life, plus the struggle some face just to hold onto that value.

Admittedly, what I've learned from travel has rendered me incapable of vacationing on a cushioned chair at the beach. I'm a travel snob. When I travel, I want to breathe in the life of a place and a people, to understand who they are, if only to reflect on who I am and want to be.

Travel and reflection inevitably brought me to photography. For me, photography is spirituality. While I cannot say I picked up a camera at age twelve and never looked back, I can say that I'm able to interact with people and places in a deeper, more-fulfilling way than ever before through my lens. I'm still learning, but I hope my photographs give you a knot in your belly, a lingering introspection on how you live and how you want to live. Get out. See things. Do stuff that scares you.

T.S. Robinson is a writer and photographer. He has traversed China with Tibetan nomads, wandered all of Africa, gotten hopelessly lost in Afghanistan and spent months at a time on the swells of the North Sea. He recently lived a year in Sudan.

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