Art, Photography, and Fire

Life has been crazy. It always has, I just sometimes forget to ignore it at times. You see, today (well, yesterday) was Valentines Day. It was also the Mardi Gras Celebration here in Soulard (the second largest, right after Batton Rouge and NOLA if you believe the internet these days). As usual, it was a [edit] show with tons of drunk people, loud music, and yeah, that’s about it. Other than that, the adventure has been “uneventful.”

Uneventful. Yeah, right. If you can believe that, I have some ocean-front property in Kansas that I’m also trying to sell.

You see, life is not, nor will it ever be, a tamed animal within a cage where you can look at it from a safe distance and proclaim, “that’s nice.” No, life is an adventure and a jungle full of surprises, fears, hazards, and joys. It is comprised of the most extreme highs and devastating lows. It will build you up just as quickly as it will tear you down.

Barbarian Lover Barbarian Warrior

As before, I mentioned that yesterday was Valentines Day.  The Hallmark season of love and affection.  And lets not forget the roses and chocolates that come with that profession of love.  You may be wondering to yourself why the above paintings are just hanging out up there, staring at you.  Well, the simple reason: Love.

Several years ago, I stumbled across the idea of the Barbarian; the Lover and the Warrior.  You cannot have one without the other, just as you cannot separate the two.  The passion runs to deep.  So, we have the warrior and the lover, two distinct characteristics of the same individual (the Barbarian).  Ever since that day (way back when I was still attending Anderson University and attempting to discover what I truly believed) I have done my best to live the life of the Barbarian; a life that is full of living and loving.

This progressed into my life motto: We Live, We Love.  It is tattooed on my wrist, a daily reminder that no matter our struggles, nor the chaos that surrounds us, to fully live, we must learn to love.  And to fully love, we must learn to live.

You see, we must be constantly learning or we die.  It’s that simple.

On a side note, the above paintings will be showing at the 33February show hosted by MySLArt.org, and although I will be unable to attend the gallery reception, I hope that if you find yourself in the St Louis area, you go support these amazing artists.

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A couple weeks ago, I got the opportunity to attend a huge event.  An event like no other.  It was a night full of the Holy Spirit.  Surrounded by inspiring music, some amazing praise and worship, and thousands of individuals seeking out God in their individual journeys, I felt the love pour over me once again.

This was Winter Jam.

For a while, I felt lost.  I felt as if nobody could understand the chaos that was happening in my life.  Like a ship lost at sea, with no way to guide itself home.  And as I sat there, beside people that I had met minutes before, I knew that I was home, no matter where I found myself to be.  That’s the power of love.

I met some amazing individuals that night.  High School students.  Their parents.  College students.  Wanderers.  Thinkers.  All lovers and warriors willing to take a stand for what they believed.

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Oh, I’ve also been keeping myself busy with AmeriCorps St Louis Emergency Response Team.  We’ve been having adventures all across the state of Missouri, all of us eagerly waiting to respond to the next disaster or wildfire.  We’ve been doing a lot of Glade Restoration projects; cutting out cedar and burning them in piles to open up the natural areas where native grasses and wildflowers thrive.  It’s been interesting to see the difference between how MDC does it in the SE part of the state and then wander on over West with DNR who does it differently.

Neither are wrong, they just do it differently.  It’s an interesting perspective on conservation.

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We’ve gotten close to wanting to kill one another (you may think I’m joking about this, but who really knows).  We bicker and we go back and forth at times with complaints and opinions, but truly, we all love one another.  We are all about that love, y’all!

In all seriousness, every group is going to have it’s issues.  This is what happens when you put 37 individuals together for an extended amount of time.  Yes, it’s not perfect.  Yes, we screw up.  But in the end, we must ask ourselves if it is really worth it.  I already know the answer to that question.

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So, if you take anything out of this post, let it be love.  And even though I am up at all ends of the night/morning assisting at the Emergency Warming Shelter (all you Second Years owe me!), I love what I do.  I love the life that God has put before me.  Even with the struggles, heartaches, and pain that often accompanies the adventure.  And what I love most are the lives that I have crossed paths with, those friendships that span across the nation and around the globe.  May God continue to bless you and pour out His love upon your life.

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