Who’s the most influential person in your life?
If you asked me this age-old question, I wouldn’t hesitate to answer: My grandpa.
Though he passed away in 2006 – when I was twenty-two – his impact on my life hasn’t faded. If anything, it’s grown stronger!
I could easily write a book on what I learned from Grandpa – and perhaps someday I will. But, for now, I’ll stick to the three main areas he influenced me that relate to this blog: travel, flying, and photography.
TRAVEL + FLIGHT
Many of my earliest and happiest childhood memories were made with Grandpa. I must have been only three years old when he first took me to the local airport parking lot. We sat on the hood of his car, watching planes take off and land. That was undoubtedly the moment I became a wanderluster. Where were those planes headed? Who was on board? I wanted to know. I wanted to GO!
I don’t recall how often we visited the airport, but I’ll never forget how it fueled my mind with wonder and my heart with wander feelings. It’s almost fitting that, just months before my grandpa’s death, I took my first flight – all the way to Ireland.
And, I’m still infatuated with air travel. I relish the opportunity to fly anywhere. Anytime. I don’t even mind all the hassle of airport security or those cramped coach quarters because it means I get to fly – and GO someplace! Beyond commercial flights, I’ve also experienced hanging out of a helicopter, jumping out of a plane, and flying a plane. All were magical experiences – and the spell was first cast by my grandpa.
I was eight or nine the year my grandpa gave me a camera for Christmas. Normally, all the presents from Grandma and Grandpa were purchased by Grandma. But, that year, Grandpa was eager for me to open one present in particular. He had picked it out just for me, and I’ll never forget the sparkle in his eyes, that mischievous smile on his face, and the joy in his demeanor when he watched me unwrap a brand new, point-and-shoot, Kodak camera. (This camera here.)
It was a gift I hadn’t asked for, but somehow, he knew that I needed it in my life. Grandpa knew me better than I knew myself. That camera was, hands down, my favorite gift that year – and, truthfully, my favorite gift of all the presents I’ve ever opened on Christmas day.
Now, I can’t say I became a child prodigy in photography. And even today, I’m not a professional photographer (though I do have an art degree and took photography in college). It’s just that taking photos has changed my life. It’s taught me to see the world differently, to pay attention to the small, seemingly insignificant details of life just as often as I do the grand, in-your-face, obviously photo-worthy moments. Basically, I’ve become more observant and more appreciative of the little things.
This certainly serves me well when I’m adventuring. Even when I’m not snapping a photo, noticing the details gives me a richer experience in the present and clearer memories for the future. It started with that camera, and somehow Grandpa knew.
So, if any bit of my adventures and photos inspire you – to dream and to do – you have my grandpa to thank. I have my grandpa to thank; and, I dedicate this blog entirely to him.
Who has impacted your life? And, how has this person encouraged you to inspire others? Because, it’s all about paying it forward, right?!