On a rainy Sunday afternoon I spent several hours in my basement cutting glass. Taking a break from a long week of writing it was a pleasant diversion. With my mind and my hands I created something tangible, unlike my stories, an expression of art you can feel and touch. In the process though I seem to have manifest a better understanding of my life’s purpose.
Recently I had become enthralled by a geometric pattern called the Endless Knot. A symbol of Tibetan Buddhism well known to our community of climbers, the design represents the interweaving of the spiritual path, a flowing of time and movement within that which is eternal. As a meditation on the pattern I created a practice of constructing stained glass window ornaments. A series of simple straight-line cuts and 45-degree angles in 23 pieces, this little project traces a never-ending course of convolution that inevitably leads back exactly where it began. Some say it’s a map of the universe. I’ve made four so far and there’s one in progress.
Originally I started making these Endless Knots as gifts to donors and sponsors of the Joy Trip Project. They’re available for purchase as well and the money goes to offset my travel expenses when I’m on the road. As a way of saying thank you to those kind enough to support my work these knots are a small but intimate expression of gratitude. But like most gifts the creation of these patterns gives back to me in joy and piece of mind far more than I receive in cash contributions. Relaxed and a bit more focused I write a few more stories. My work is exposed to a broader audience. My sponsors are pleased. Another check comes in. I get another assignment. I write some more. I build another knot. And the gift perpetuates.
I’ve discovered that my life’s purpose is to give every bit as much as I’m prepared to take. As a freelancer often my ability to give is stifled by what I might loose if I incur the cost of producing a story without the means to pay for it. But as a reporter it’s my job to take stories and share them with as many people as possible. As I observe the world around me, I focus my attention on those who make expressions art through music, film, photography, literature and painting. I follow the work of those who dedicate their lives in the service of others through philanthropy or environmental protection. And I seek to understand those who risk their lives in the pursuit of adventure and inspire all of us to exceed our limitations.
I take all of this in. These people and their stories enrich my life. It’s my privilege to pay it forward in my reporting, my photographs and in stained glass in hopes of inspiring others to share their stories as well. In the perpetuation of giving and taking the Endless Knot winds its way through time returning to where it began, continuing an eternal cycle of renewal.
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