2011 -- The Best of Times and the Worst of Times
As I drew focus on an old homestead many miles from home, he spotted me, in his ragged t-shirt and rickety truck. I pretended not to notice him as he cantered toward me - almost striding like a rustler at high noon. The only thing missing was a cheesy western thematic, an obnoxious drawl, and clangy spurs. It was high noon, 12:45pm to be exact - underneath that relentless sun.
"Can I help you?" His voice was flustered, but seemingly eager. Benevolent.
"Sorry. I can't help but love this." My finger squeezed off the shot as he wasn't looking. He heard the click ... and then he grinned. His voice lifted.
"It's my dad's place. And he did."
I chatted with this fellow for about an hour about how some things never change, and how some things do. We spoke about life and the adventures each of us had carried, lost loves, and lost moments. I took the opportune moment to elaborate on my adventures around the state. He openly spoke in an anti-government sentiment, stating his reasons for living in one of the most isolated places in America. Still, isolation was the reward, and perhaps a sanctuary from the wrongs and their effects. We were two strangers alike in many ways, two rugged individuals who had experience behind their belts, things to say, and separated only by distance.
My friends, 2011 has been a difficult year for many of us and this is an absolute understatement for myself. At the start of 2011, I was blessed with some wonderful editorials. Brian Duggan from the Nevada Appeal contacted me and ran full-page story on my adventures across Nevada. Shortly afterward, Lauren Garber from KOLO 8 News filmed a segment about me, my website, and my journey to capture every state historic marker in Nevada. My websites grew due to this publicity and things were looking brighter on the mountain top. Suddenly, four months later, I bottomed out due to severe depression. I thought of suicide and I was hospitalized, put on medication, and since have been overcoming my stormy days. For the months to follow, I took time to re-evaluate my life and why this was happening. I have yet to figure out the answers, but I feel stronger today than I have ever been.
Nevada has had its share of problems in 2011. As many Nevadans struggle with economic hardships, and others who struggle with their own inner-struggles, there is hope on the horizon. Unfortunately, due to my struggles, I was only able to make one major trip this year and it wasn't for photography. Instead, I went east, without an itinerary. I thought softly about myself and my accomplishments, my worth if you will, as the miles went by. Two days later, I ended up in Silver Creek, on the edge of Nevada in Snake Valley. The kind buckaroo I had chatted with was the first person I had seen since leaving home. I spent a solid 14 days in eastern Nevada, wandering, residing under the stars, and shooting whatever came to my mind. This single venture was a therapeutic journey - a therapy session for my soul that was in desperate need of help. The results and visions of this trip comprise entirely of my "August Potpourri" gallery. I hope you all enjoy.
We both went our separate ways that day. He wished me luck and told me ... "Come back safe, next year." It is a promise I intend to keep.
As 2011 comes to a close, so does anticipation for a better year. Although Nevada hurts financially, she is nonetheless in a healing process. After all, Nevada is known for her resiliency. The state survives with its head held high and its tribulations ahead and behind. As such, I will take mine into 2012 with the same medicinal kindred. See you all next year.
-- Paul Sebesta
Great Basin Wilds Photography