Al Campbell, Field Editor

December 8th, 2003

Color My World
By Al Campbell

I recently took the time read some of my old writing. I was feeling a little run down and like maybe I had run out of things to write about. Sometimes going back a few years is a good thing to kick me out of the rut I think I'm in.

What I discovered is that I spend a lot more time now writing about technical stuff and passing on information; but I'm not spending as much time revealing my inner heart as I did before. The time frame of the shift seems to have been about the time a bunch of radical nuts flew some planes into the big towers in New York. Did it really impact me that much? I guess it did.

Where did the words go? How could I have lost the vision I had before that moment in time? Whatever happened to the color I once used to paint my thoughts and words? Did the fish lose their color? Has the whole world gone flat? I don't know, but I think I need a cure.

Once upon a time, the brookies in my mind were splashed with emerald green and accented with rays of ruby and pearl. They were vivid jewels of God's creation with colors that no painter could ever match. When I had the privilege to hold one in my hand, the reflection of the sun off its back was like the shimmer of light off a fine jade figurine. Did they change, or did I?

Did brown trout lose their golden hue, or did I just lose my child-like view? My camera captured the gold and bronze of springtime browns in Rapid Creek; but my eyes were too busy looking for sharp details in the photos to notice. It took my grandson asking me if the trout were really that pretty, for me to see the vivid gold that only God could create, and only my grandson had noticed. Have I become so fixated on photographic details that I don't see the beauty I'm trying to capture?

Where did the rainbow go that once adorned the sides of a rainbow trout? When I was a kid, I could watch a rainbow in the sky for as many minutes as it was visible and then groan when the lighting changed and the rainbow went away. I used to wonder how such intense colors could span the sky. I also wondered how and why God painted those colors on the side of a trout, and did He do it just for me? Now I wonder if my photo will be in focus or should I take a few more to be safe.

As a child, I captured lightning bugs and put them in a clear jar. I would watch their neon glow flashing on and off like a drug store sign, until heavy eyes could watch no more. How did they do that? Did they have a switch that they turned on and off, or was it a built-in function? Now I ask myself if I need to change the camera angle to capture the details of the eyes and legs of the insect I'm photographing. Where did the wonder go?

I went to the Idaho Fish-In intent on the idea of capturing all the colors of a bunch of cutthroat trout to add to my collection of photos. I was determined to get some great shots that I could share with the world; but when I got there, something else took control. I discovered that I needed to fish. I needed to fish more than I had in a long, long time.

The photos would have to wait. I was in the mountains, and it had been a very long time since I had chased cutthroat trout in the wild rivers of the Rocky Mountains. Something inside me was telling me that I need to get back to my roots again, or I'll risk losing my vision. I was there to be baptized in the sights and scents of pure mountain waters. I was there to recover something I had lost and didn't know how to recover. I didn't take nearly as many photos as I had intended; but I left the water a reborn person.

My eyes had seen a vision. There is a form of beauty out there that a camera can't capture. My body had been bathed in clean air and cold water to the point that some of the grime of six-day work weeks and bills had been washed away; but my soul was still mired in the mud of daily living in a work and sleep world.

So here I sit in front of a computer screen, muddied once again by the grime of work schedules and deadlines. I'm too long on duties and too short on time; and I have once again lost the vision of a world so beautiful that it can only really be seen through the eyes of a child who hasn't clouded the view with obligations and timelines. Gone are the wonder and amazement I had when I was young enough to see the world the way God intended it to be seen.

Right here and now, I'm going to start the process that will change that view. I don't know exactly what I'll have to do, or the route I'll have to take to get there; but I'm going to recapture that vision I had as a child. I'm going to scrub away the filth that insane fanatics on a dead-end road packed into my soul when they sacrificed themselves and others to an ideal so vile and obscene no god could ever condone it. I'm going to learn again how to see the beauty behind the details in the big picture.

And maybe, sometime during that process, I'll recover the color in my view of life and the natural world around me. If I let my grandchildren show me, maybe I'll be able to once again see the world and all its wonders the way I did when I was young. When I do, my photos will be more colorful and detailed, and my writing will paint a better picture of the world we live in.

In fact, I already feel some of that color returning. Do you see it? ~ AC

Previous Al Campell Columns

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