For those of you who follow me on the Instagrams or on Facebook, you’ll know that for the last week I’ve been posting a black and white photo on the daily. For those of you who don’t follow me, you may have seen some of your friends taking part in a similar challenge on any number of the social medias.
Of course, for those who might not know the challenge of which I write, its rules are simple:
Seven days: Seven black and white photos of your life. No people. No pets. No explanation. Challenge someone new each day.
I don’t normally take part in Facebook challenges, but this one was different. The challenge gave me a chance to look through my photos and reminisce a bit, but also allowed me an opportunity to think about my life, and which seven photos I might select to represent it.
Before I even started reviewing my photos, I tried to develop a list of the things that make me happy, while excluding people or pets – because rules. And since the rules also required me to daily identify someone to take part in this black and white photo challenge, I tried to connect those things that make me happy with some of the people in my life who have somehow been a part of those things. This doesn’t mean that they were the only people who came to mind during this exercise – far from it – but the rules read someone, not someones.
Now that the challenge has ended, I feel that the rules no longer apply and I can provide an explanation for the photos I selected.
Day 1: Mountains
I took this photo when I travelled to Everest Base Camp with Rick. It was the adventure of a lifetime, and I was extremely fortunate to get to spend it with one of my best friends. Granted, stepping foot into base camp was an incredibly bittersweet experience since altitude sickness had Rick hospitalized a few days before our intended arrival. Despite this, there remains something magical and powerful about mountains for me; summiting them is as close to a religious experience as I think I get.
Day 2: Pie
I love pie. I’m pretty sure that every person I know is aware of this. However, they may not know that I used to work for Chudleigh’s Apple Farm in Milton. In particular, I worked on the pie line for almost 10 years. I’ve made more pastry and filling than you can probably imagine, and I’ve crimped quite literally thousands of pies. I can’t even begin to tell you how many pumpkin pies I made during the Thanksgiving season. Honestly, given the number of pies I’ve made I probably should hate pie with every fibre of my being, but here we are. I love pie, and I don’t care who knows it.
Day 3: Scotch
Like pie, I’m also a big fan of scotch. If this surprises any of my friends, they probably don’t know me as well as they think they do.
Day 4: Rigolet
I fell in love with Rigolet when I first stepped off the plane and got to experience this pocket of Canada that few get to experience. But it wasn’t just the land, it was the people who opened their doors to me who captured my heart. And for a guy who isn’t a fan of winter, I can honestly say I can’t wait to return next February with some of my students. There is truly something magical about Rigolet.
Day 5: Travel
Again, this should come as no surprise to any of my friends. I love to travel. I can’t get enough of it. I wanderlust almost constantly, even when I’m already away travelling. The fact that 3 of 7 of these photos are travel related should speak to this fact. This particular photo was taken while I was on safari in Malawi in August of 2016. It was an incredible moment for me; something I had dreamt about since I was a kid. And while the photo makes me giddy – because there were real live elephants right in front of me – it also reminds me of the incredible people I met while I was away, and how lucky I am that I get to travel as much as I do. My life is weird and wonderful, and I’m so grateful that it is.
Day 6: Baker Street Station
Baker Street Station is my home away from home, my office away from office. It may seem weird that I’ve opted to include a restaurant in my 7 photos, but then again, it has been the scene of so many amazing stories and moments in my life since I became a faculty member in the School of Computer Science that I couldn’t not include it. So many of my crazy ideas have been formed here; often while chatting with friends over a pint. The fact that the owners and staff are genuinely amazing people doesn’t hurt.
Day 7: Math
I love math. I always have, and I imagine that I always will. When I was young I often found myself unable to sleep at night because I was thinking about math. While I usually fall asleep within seconds these days, my love for math has never waned. This photo, however, is particularly special to me. On the surface, it’s simply a blackboard with some mathematical scribbles that may or may not mean anything to you. For me, however, this blackboard and the mathematical scribbles are so much more. These are some of the last things that my friend and mentor wrote before he passed away last year. This photo, for me, is a treasure trove of happy memories with a man who influenced my life in ways that I’m still learning about. It’s also a photo that guts me every time I see it because it reminds me not only that the world lost a great man, but that I lost a friend. It’s a simple unassuming photo, but of the 7, it is by far the most nuanced.