On the EDge: Follow your dream

OPINION – Dreams are important.

Without them, we are nothing. We have nothing to aspire to, we have nothing to work toward, we have nothing to fill our soul. As Aristotle said, “Hope is a waking dream.”

We fancy ourselves in a lot of different scenarios, hold fleeting moments of inspiration, and desire to explore a variety of things in our youth, but deep inside, we know what our dreams really are, what we truly want to be, what we wish to accomplish during our time on this rugged planet, and we set a course for the heart of those dreams.

It’s not easy, of course, but nothing worthwhile is.

I am relieved, proud, happy – no, make that ecstatic – that a certain young lady whose presence in my heart occupies a rather large space, is well on her way to realizing her dream.

You see, Mariah has graduated from college with a bachelor’s degree in photography.

I’ve known Mariah since she was 11.

It’s an awkward age, especially for a young lady, but I saw her move into her teens, a little hesitant, but well-rooted despite all that being a teenager brings with it.

She was developing her personality, however, and the times when she would hang out around the newspaper office were always fun. She was growing into a curious, outgoing young lady who would often spend her time hanging out at my desk and chatting. She was sociable, warm, funny, kind, and I looked forward to our visits whenever her mother, who was a co-worker of mine at the newspaper, would bring her to work.

I cheered her from a distance for the first half of her high school career until circumstances changed dramatically when her mother and I were married.

What had been a warm friendship suddenly became something deeper, more binding, and we fit surprisingly well into that space.

I learned, quickly, about the soft spots in her heart, the intricacies of her mind and how she has an insatiable curiosity about the world around her, how she has a deep-rooted faith in humanity, but still does not suffer fools gladly.

I also learned that she is one of the most keenly focused young people I have ever known.

One of Mariah’s earliest shots.

It was evident that she had not only a God-given talent for photography, but an unyielding passion to share what only she sees through a camera lens, which is why her mother and I encouraged her to follow her dream.

She went away to school, starting out in Portland, then finishing up in Denver, working long hard hours in the classroom, in the field with a camera almost always around her neck, and at the jobs she took to help support herself and her education, all the while growing and maturing as a strong, independent woman.

She has done a lot of freelance work along the way, and developed a following in Denver through some commercial and artistic work she has done. She has also found time to give back as well during a six-month hiatus in Mexico, where she learned a different culture, volunteered at a local relief agency where she helped the poor, saved baby sea turtles, and managed to continue her education through online coursework.

But, now this chapter has closed and an even larger one looms.

Her experiences, her education, have done nothing but fuel her passion for her craft and she has a fair list of clients – from architectural to commercial to artistic – lined up.

And, it is good to see a dream coming true, especially for somebody so deserving and dedicated.

Yeah, I’m proud. So is her mother. So are her grandparents. So are the many people who have come to know and love her over the years.

I’m told she started upon this journey when she was given a “little, pink Barbie camera” when she was fairly young. I came into the picture about the time she was hauling around a little red digital point-and-shoot that she was already carrying to work her special magic.

Now her gear is far more complex and unwieldy, with an array of cameras, lenses, lights, and other tools of the trade that help her put her signature on whatever she sets her eye upon.

I cannot wait to see her share more of her unique and artistic perspective.

There’s a lot going on in this crazy world right now, a lot that deserves commentary, analysis, criticism or praise.

But, not in my world.

This is a moment, for her mother and me, to sit back and do what we would advise her to do whenever the tensions of school, work, or life in general became overwhelming: breathe.

It is also a time to celebrate the coming of age of a remarkable young woman who now stands on the threshold of making her dream come true.

So, indulge me, if you will, as I take a moment to acknowledge one of those special “life moments” that make all else, at least right now, pale in comparison.

And, let me offer to those who may be at a bit of a crossroads, the only thing I know to be true: Follow your heart.

You may find yourself flailing at times, you may find yourself utterly alone or at sea with your thoughts, but your heart will always guide you to those things of importance, the necessities of a life fulfilled.

So, go for it, whether the dream is large or small.

Listen to that little inner voice that only you can hear and follow it.

And, most of all, remember the words of poet, social activist, novelist, playwright, and columnist Langston Hughes who said: “Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die,
life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly.”

Ed Kociela is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.

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Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews, @EdKociela

Copyright St. George News, StGeorgeUtah.com Inc., 2014, all rights reserved.

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  • JAR September 23, 2014 at 8:13 am

    Inspiring article Ed.
    Have to forward this on to my granddaughter who has similar aspirations.

    • Disgruntled September 24, 2014 at 10:02 am

      As long as she doesn’t want to make a living at it go ahead. St George sucks for supporting their local photographers…… unless it’s free!

  • D September 23, 2014 at 11:46 am

    Great article on a great person. I feel so lucky to know her, and be able to watch her dreams come true. She is an amazing person. I’m also grateful she has you and her mom encouraging her to follow her heart. If she had followed others advice, indeed she would be a great radiologist, but we all know that’s not for her, that’s not her dream and the talent she has can’t be trapped in a hospital only taking photos of peoples insides.

  • SWEET ICE TEA September 23, 2014 at 2:03 pm

    Just goes to show that there is hope in our youth. Congrats Mariah….and never, ever stop reaching for your dreams.

  • JustBen September 23, 2014 at 3:36 pm

    One of the few articles Ed has written worth reading. Kudos, Ed, well written, inspirational, and thought provoking article.

  • neighbor lady September 24, 2014 at 10:50 pm

    To all of you who thought Ed was a heartless, insensitive b……* now see the man that I know. I have known Mariah for a few years and she has always been sweet and thoughtful. I give credit to all you wonderful people who shaped her into this amazing woman. I was very touched by your article on Mariah. You are an amazing DAD! Be safe on your travel or adventure and Please go to the Coors plant and get me something cool. I would even take the empty tasting cup. I didn’t get to go when I was in Denver. And at The Aquarium they make a mean mojito! Tell her best wishes from the neighbor and her family.And the next time she is here she can work her magic for my little lady.
    *Ed. ellipses

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