Faith, Personal

This is not supposed to be a photo blog

I haven’t meant for my blog to be mostly about cameras and photography this year, but that’s certainly how it’s turned out.

I normally write all summer about my road trips, but with temperatures routinely in the 100s it’s just been too darned hot. I made my recent Dandy Trail trip in that kind of heat and while my car’s air conditioner mostly kept up, I wilted within minutes every time I stepped out of the car for a photo. That wasn’t any fun. I hope it cools off soon so I can hit the road again.

I used to write a lot about my faith, but since leaving my church last year I’ve felt unsettled and just haven’t had anything to say. My sons and I visited several churches before settling on a suburban congregation of about 400. The main reason we left our last church was because there were no other teenagers there and my sons had become disengaged, so we were glad to find a big, busy youth group.

I was also looking to make friends and become part of a faith community. I was in leadership at my last church, and it was difficult to be friends with people I was shepherding. I have been very hungry for reciprocal relationships with other Christians.

We attended the new church for ten months and even became members there a few months ago, but we never made any connections there. The biggest reason, I think, is that they rely on home groups and youth group meetings for relationship building, and almost all of these activities happen at times we can’t attend because of the parenting schedule I share with my ex-wife. For example, almost all home groups meet Sunday evenings at 6 pm. The weekends my sons are here, their mom picks them up at 7 pm, while the group is in full swing. I found one group that met early Sunday afternoons, and was amused to find it filled with divorced adults. None of us, it turns out, could make the normal home group time work because of our parenting schedules. We felt like refugees! But our group didn’t gel and attendance was poor. I kept hoping I’d make some connections in Sunday school or after worship, but in the large gathering people gravitated to their established relationships. Most of the time the boys and I were left standing alone as friends around us caught up with each other.

These seemed to be good people; we just didn’t fit. So we are again searching for a church.

My desire to make friends was underscored in April when my brother moved to Utah to take a job. I didn’t realize until he was gone how much I had come to rely on him as a companion. I’m pretty introverted and I need plenty of alone time to keep my batteries charged. But I also need occasional companionship, especially with people who really know me, and my brother was filling most of that need. My two closest friends live in Terre Haute and South Bend, too far away to casually ring on a Saturday night to see if they’d like to meet and catch up. So I was doubly hoping to make friends in church.

My job has continued to be very difficult and take most of my energy. I could write a long post about everything that’s happened, but it’s hard to do that without talking about confidential stuff. I’m handling the stress better than before, but it remains intense and draining. My co-workers are noticing that I’m tired and unhappy.

In the past, when work stayed this difficult this long I have simply found another job. Even though the country is still recovering from its long recession, where I live there’s nearly full employment in my line of work. It’s hard to find experienced workers to fill open positions. I’m sure that if I worked my network and circulated my resume I’d find something sooner rather than later. But something deep inside me is telling me that this time I need to push hard and not give up. Doing that is certainly stretching me and making me stronger. Moreover, some of the things we’re working on have the potential to be the new pinnacle of my career if we achieve them.

And of course, I’m still raising sons. I don’t write much about them because they have some right not to have their dad blab about their lives to the entire Internet. So just assume the usual challenges of raising teenagers, with the time and energy that takes.

Oh, and did I mention that I was elected president of the Historic Michigan Road Association? This organization grew out of the grassroots effort I helped lead that got Indiana’s Michigan Road named a Historic Byway. Our near-term goals are to win 501(c)(3) status with the IRS, find funding sources, and get guide signs erected all along the route. Sadly, this keeps getting short shrift with everything else on my plate. I worry that I’m letting the board down.

And so I have simply lacked the energy to do the kind of introspection that used to be a hallmark of this blog. I miss it terribly.

Fortunately, when I have a short burst of free time, it is very easy to drop a roll of film into and old camera and go out to take a few photographs. I can usually write a few easy words about the photos and make a post out of it. That’s how I’m keeping the blog going. It’s also how I’m keeping me going, as it’s something I do just for myself. The pleasure of it restores me.

It’s also turned Down the Road into primarily a photo blog. It’s not supposed to be. When my life is in balance again, so will this blog be.

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13 thoughts on “This is not supposed to be a photo blog

  1. I do tend to think that at any given time that God puts the people in our lives that we need to have there. I have never had much luck going out and looking to meet the people I thought I needed to meet. It seems to work better if I look around at who is already there. And at the times when having others to share with seems lacking at least for me it indicated a need to work on myself. And you could do worse than a photo blog.

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    • Ted, thanks. An undercurrent here is really about rebuilding my life after my divorce, which even six years later I’m still cleaning up after a little bit. Plenty of good people have been placed in my path and I am turning to them more. Many of them don’t share my faith, though, and I miss that. Moreover, working on myself is a constant with me! One of my other regular commenters once remarked, “You are your own biggest project!” He’s so right.

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  2. I enjoy the photography too!…I enjoy the fried chicken…In my view you haven’t missed a beat…If the things that have changed in your life have caused you to alter the content here…Well that’s OK too…’Cause this blog is still a good reflection of you!

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  3. the word of me says:

    Hi Jim, just want to say keep it up. I enjoy the blog when you write about roads or dams or cameras or whatever. you write great and always engage my interest when you write about anything.

    However, since I am a photo and camera buff, I especially like your writing about cameras…:-)

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  4. With everything on your plate, you get huge kudos in my book for the discipline of posting regularly and without interruption in spite of the challenges you face! And the focus on photos (pun intended) when time is scarce for writing enhances the blog.

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  5. Lone Primate says:

    I think you have to take it for what it is, Jim. Blogs are like rivers; they follow the lay of the land. I can remember a time when I barely stepped outside the door that I didn’t blog about it, and it’s been valuable to me so many times in remembering where I was and what I was doing with my life. But in the last couple of years other hobbies have simply taken up the time I used to invest in it. Months can go by now where I can’t think of anything I think is worth saying. If your photography is what’s currently firing your urge to post, I don’t think you should over-analyze it too much. Obviously, that’s what you feel strongly needs to be said. It’s probably a sign your feelings are too defuse right now to be focused into words. Go with it. Say what needs to be said, and just let the rest come as it comes, naturally, and I believe sooner or later, it will. :)

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    • That’s great advice, LP. You’re right, my feelings aren’t so coalesced right now as to make for clear writing about them. So I’ll go with the flow here.

      The discipline of two-a-week posts does sometimes force me to get creative. I like the discipline; it keeps me writing. I don’t get to do that for a living anymore and I need the outlet!

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