I find it simultaneously daunting and crippling to find out about other people’s courageous lives.
I’m sure everyone feels the same..but when you find out about someone who is your age or younger and has published a best-selling life-changing novel, saved refugee camps, already had your dream career and excelled at it, and moved on (or in this case–died)…it is kind of a depressing/exhilarating feeling.
This photojournalist was also an extremely talented mixed-media artist and created personal journals (seventeen of them at the time of his death by stoning in Somalia, at the age of 22) that are touching, riveting, sensual, passionate, brilliant. His mother compiled pages from them in a hard-cover book called “The Journey is the Destination: the Journals of Dan Eldon”.
There are some annoyingly-flash-powered samples of his journals on the site. Worth a look, really.
This guy is really, for me, an ideal, in a way. A fantasy. I fancy that there are these individuals who walk around the same earth we do, but seem to not be limited or bound by the same laws. As if gravity didn’t somehow apply to certain people, or the need for visas, or mundane obligations.
At the age of 14, he started photo-journalism. At seventeen, he was interning for a magazine in New York, that same year he raised money for the hospital bills of a girl in Kenya through various ingenious and creative ploys. At nineteen, he drove down from Kenya to Mozambique and found a refugee camp he vowed to aid, then raised money for that cause. Around 20, he found out about rampant famine in the north of Somalia and was single-handedly responsible for bringing it to the attention of the world through his photos. He was stoned to death at 22 when trying to help document a popular uprising.
That’s what I mean…some people live in this world but are not bound by it. I think of all of us as plants, we all have roots, but some of us are firmly rooted in soil, immovable, stuck to one place, and grow upwards because that’s what we do. Some of us have roots but are freed from our environment, are UP-rooted, held triumphantly above ground, defying the laws of rooted-ness, overtaking walls, buildings, houses with our luxuriant vines, growing over water, over rock.
There are so many options for life. And I find myself yearning for a life infused with courage and daring, but not sure how to free myself from everything I tie myself down to. I just want to uproot myself and live the life I would love to live. Live a life I can admire.