A Message from Zebra

Posted by on Feb 8, 2018 in Naturalist Blog | 0 comments

By Elias “Zebra” Wallace

Photos are typically taken for memories. Many people don’t realize that a photo holds secrets that are only valued by a certain person or group of people. By looking at a single photo, so many memories, thoughts, and feelings can rise up because a photo has the power to stop time and capture experiences that may never been captured again. The picture above is me, standing over the most beautiful nature setting I’ve ever experienced. This photo is so important to me because I was able to literally stop time and capture a split second of my life where I was complete and full of happiness.

Two days prior to this photo, I was completely off focus. My grades were dropping, I was having family issues, I was stressing over balancing school and work; I was a complete wreck. One of my teachers then suggested taking a week off to attend an outdoor camp called Shady Creek, as a high school counselor. At the moment, I thought the idea was completely bogus and I had no intent of missing school for a camp full of children. I went home and told my mother about the idea and she suggested that it would be a great experience, and that I needed a break from the modern world and the stress of my everyday life. At this point, my ears were open so I stepped out and signed up. Within the first 30 minutes of the trip, I knew that this was going to be the most amazing experience of my life, and that it was.

When this photo was taken, I had the only intent of looking “handsome” for the camera, but when I look at it now, I’m brought back to the beauty around me at that moment. I can hear the stream soaring through the rocks. I can hear the cool wind whistling through the tree branches. Even as I look at my smile, I’m reminded of the joy that was brought to me that morning.

The day before this photo was taken, I met the boys to whom I was in charge of watching over for five days. We all were challenged to come up with a “nature name,” so I called myself Zebra along with my fellow cabin leader, Tree. I had 6 boys: Panda Pete, Funky Skunky, Jaguar, Falcon, Koala, and Jungle George. These boys were amazing, but they all shared identity issues and so did I. By helping them find who they were, they helped me find who I was. When I look at this photo, I can hear the kids yelling “Zeebraa!” I am brought back to the nights in the cabin where I would sing them the songs that my mother used to sing me, and I’m reminded of how much I’ve saw them grow in the five days we spent together.

In this photo, a few of my fellow cabin leaders and I were on our daily break and we chose to go on a hike. This was our first trip down to the creek. We had to travel downhill into a mystical green forest filled with amazing wonders. When you’d look around, all you’d see are huge deep green trees on every side of you and only a small dirt path to follow. We followed this path for what seemed to be hours until we were faced with the most amazing and blissful scenery we’ve ever witnessed. Suddenly, I heard nothing but the whispers of the creek and the tree’s inhaling in the winds. The temperature immediately changed from hot and humid, to cool and refreshing. We could see the water glisten like diamonds and drift over the smooth rocks down to a small waterfall. The air was filled with small fairy-like dandelion flakes that drifted through the wind that gave the scenery a magical feel. This was truly the most alluring sight I’ve yet to see. When I look at this photo, I am vividly reminded of the images, and the lively sounds of nature are played in my ear. I’m brought back to the nights on a mountain top where my cabin and I would gaze upon the stars that illuminated the night sky like millions of lamps.

When this photo was taken, I was currently in the process of becoming a new person. I saw nature in a way that gave me appreciation for the elements that reside around me. The six boys whom I still hold near to my heart, were on my mind the very moment the shutter of the camera closed. As I looked at the stream that laid below me, my entire life played before my eyes. I found who I was.

It’s astonishing how much information and value a simple photo can hold and only mean so much to one, or a select group of people. If an ordinary person looked at the photo, they would probably just admire my smile, or the scenery behind me, but no one would ever know what ran threw my mind at this very moment, and they would never understand the challenges within myself that I was overcoming at this point in time. In this case, This photo stopped time and allowed me to capture a moment where my life was full of life and alluring memories. So many things changed about me after this photo was taken. I brought my grades up, I was closer with my younger siblings, my parents, and most importantly I found who I was and who I was created to be.

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