Publisher – March 2021

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Dearest EXPLORE reader,

WORDS.

I “work” with words, and is the most simple way I explain my job to people. I ramble a bit about this and that, I cobble a collection of articles into a magazine, and I distribute it throughout the area for people to read. I’ve been doing this right at 15 years (yeesh) now, and the “working with words” part remains my favorite.

This affinity for expression spills out into most every area of my life. It means that I love to talk also. Pour me a cup of coffee and give me some stimulating conversation and I could go on and on for hours. Some people mutually enjoy this, and some hate it…but I’m a fan. Taking a topic (any topic will do) and analyzing it from all angles, finding the deeper meaning or cause, and mapping out any and all future actions related to the topic can keep me going a good long while.

It also means that when I visit the art gallery, I hyper-analyze the art. The brush strokes, the particular color choices, the lighting. Similar to a good conversation, I can visually devour many forms of art simply by staring at it for a length of time. As if I stared at it long enough, I could find a particular nuance in the technique that allows me to enjoy it more.

Same with the outdoors. Who is a better artist than God? Lying on the banks of the river, looking up through the canopy of the trees…I could solve all the world’s problems from my humble spot. The light, the sound, the breeze…I’d imagine that it’s about as close to heaven as one can get.

All that said, I can’t paint worth a lick and last I checked, I can’t create a cypress tree, so I’m left to simply appreciate those things for the beauty of their own creation. But I do know how to work with words. And I love to do it.

Sometimes I get down about writing as I tell myself that nobody really gives a damn what I have to say anyway, and I’m probably right for the most part. Our world consists of Facebook posts and Instagram highlights, and neither are particularly effective at conveying deep thought or discussion. Frankly, both have descended into little more than incessant bickering or rage, and I’m over it. Nobody reads blogs anymore, I can’t come up with a storyline to write a book, and I’m not into poetry. That means that the collective expression of “words” for me is confined to this very page. Yes, I write some of the other articles and profiles in the magazines we publish, but THIS little column is the one where I get to pour myself a cup of coffee, wrestle with a thought, and arm-wrestle words into something cohesive.

Somebody was mad at me one time and in a moment of anger implied that I write these words in some manner to feed my ego. As in, “Hey everybody! Look at me!” At first it hurt, but when I considered it, I realized that there was no truth behind this statement. However, it bugged me because I guess it’s a fear of mine – that those that do read this column might roll their eyes and mutter “here he goes again.”

If you’re into painting, you paint. That doesn’t mean you’re super good at it, but you hammer out some paintings, right? If someone likes them, wonderful! If someone doesn’t, you hope they keep their opinion to themselves. But the CREATION and the exercise of painting is honestly the only real motivation. If you’re into photography, capturing that perfect image is the exercise. Again, if somebody enjoys the image, super. If not, oh well. You have received the joy you sought from the creation of that which inspires you.
It’s the same for me, I guess.

I don’t really write so that I can go get a beer at Dobb’s and have 10 people come shower me with compliments on some recent ramble I’ve written, though I wouldn’t stop them. I’m not trying to fix your relationship, cure your disease, or otherwise make much of an impact on you…all of which would be some fine ideals for writing motivation. But I assure you, dear reader, that I’m not trying to change your life or teach you some amazing lesson.
In the end, I suppose I just want you to be able to nod your head and say “Me too, brother. Me too.”

If the fine art inspires you, if the amazing photos captivate you, if they touch your heart and make it move…I simply want you to RELATE to others more. That’s it. The more I’ve thought about it, the most I enjoy about working with words is simply the times when I can get raw and transparent about issues affecting me, and having someone message me with “Hey man, I really liked that. I can relate.”

If I hear that, I’m happy. My art has succeeded.

So what’s my point to THIS silly ramble? I don’t know – it’s just that, at the end of the day, we all just want to have an impact. I have picked up photography recently as a hobby, and let me tell you, it’s hard. I can now remember 100 different conversations with photographers that said “Isn’t this shot great, Ben?” and I’d say “Yeah, I guess. What’s next?” I had no appreciation for what they had done nor the skill that it took to do it. And now that I have 3 really good pictures of little but my dog, I can say that those images were WONDERFUL, and I didn’t even know it. So as you read my silly words month over month, and the next time that you’re at the art gallery…take a closer look. A whole lot of work and practice and failures went into what you see and what you read, and most of us really don’t care about any applause nor financial gain – we simply want to make you smile.

I work with “words”, and I know that there is something that you work with. Woodworking. Poetry. Music. Art. Heck, prayer is a medium as well. But there’s something you do that you hope affects someone. Your spouse, your kids, a friend, a stranger. We all want to touch other people’s hearts from time to time in whatever we can.
That’s all I have this month. I just want you to know that every last one of us out there is just looking to make an impact. I’m no different. And if any of these words I’ve rambled with over the past 15 years has so much as given you pause or made you chuckle or made you nod your head, then I’ve done my job.

And may you soak in your surroundings and perhaps sensitize yourself to the many, many ways that we all are looking for a connection.

Because I know I sure am.

Welcome to April. We’ve done 12 months of COVID stupidity, followed by Snow-vid ’21, and here’s my toast to a simpler future. May you take a look around, may you appreciate the beauty in your life, and may you thank the Creator for it all as you EXPLORE all that surrounds you.

Smiling,

Benjamin D.