Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Why was I put here on earth?


Coming home from an other-worldly Salud–the Oregon wine industry's over-the-top auction, dinner and wine celebration to raise money for vineyard workers–with my head still spinning from luscious food and tasty wine all compliments of Ste Michelle's Erath winery, I laid my whirling head on my pillow to read an article about photographer Frans Lanting. I've admired his work because he thinks big.

In the article, he talked about making a long-term commitment, for him it's to preserve nature. He says it's one measure of commitment to take a picture of an old-growth forest or a glacier and move on to the next topic. It's quite another to devote long stretches of time and significant resources to become fully immersed in all of the intricacies, concerns and realities of why that forest loses trees every year or why that glacier recedes so dramatically. Communicating those stories in images is the crux of what a conservation or environmental photographer does.

Those words stirred something inside of me. I realized I have put Africa's Undiscovered Myths Project–where I've interviewed the elders, shamans, witch doctors and storytellers of Africa's most remote tribes about their myths and archetypal dreams–on the desktop where it has gathered dust. Anthropologists still tell me that I'm the only person who has ever recorded those oral stories for almost all the tribes I've visited. And the Dogon tribe elders and "Pope" told me that they had never heard of the stories that were attributed to them.

Before I die, I need to finish the Undiscovered Myths work. But now I am loving doing wine stories and getting paid for it. Yet I've spent 8 years on the Myth project. Ringing in my ears is what an Omo elder told a couple of invading tourists: "We were a lot closer to god before you came."

So what am I suppose to do while here on earth? Why was I put here? What is my purpose? Myth, wine, good life, hard work, father, husband or .......?
Warrior with face paint. Karo tribe, Omo River area, Ethiopai
The elders told me that god had colorful wings, a rainbow-colored chest, no legs, flies through the sky and can kill a man easily. Mursi tribe, Omo River area, Ethiopia.

1 comment:

Karen said...

At first pass I guess I have to say that I think your purpose is all of those things Janis, not just one. God made you multi-faceted and talented and your ability to relate to people, to really listen to their stories, and to share them is a special gift.