It was cold. Nothing like the day when 38 people were gunned-down on the beach outside Sousse, Tunisia. Here I was 6 miles away, sitting on the same stretch of sand where lives were stolen only 18 months earlier.
You'd think I would do a little research before I travel to new countries but I tend to actually learn more when I'm on the ground. I had heard about the unfortunate events that took place on June 26, 2015 when an armed man posing as a tourist opened fire on a beach crowd at a local hotel. But, this wasn't going to stop me from traveling.
Fast forward to the moment in the picture above. I was only a day into my photojournalism trip documenting a conference for a few days at a near-by hotel. I learned that the nearly vacant facility was once bustling with guests until the massacre. They were renovating in hopes of attracting travelers but the near-by events definitely took it's toll in more than one way.
I had a job to do. If I let this one story scare me away from documenting the work of incredible programs in Africa, I let that gunman win. See, this world is filled with unimaginable stories and I've only heard a small portion of them during my 20+ year travels overseas. Stories of murder. Stories of "arranged rape". Stories of beatings and burnings. Stories of prostitution and sacrifices. Stories of child slavery. Literally, it feels like what I've heard and seen is sadly only a grain of sand on a beach of hurting memories continually touched by the tears of the broken-hearted and healing.
It's truly hard to turn on the news and not hear something that makes you cringe. Bombings. Natural disasters. Kidnappings. Murders. It's difficult to feel safe in such an upside down world. But, I believe the sane outnumber the crazy and if we work together, we can and will make this world a better place. If we can give hope to the hopeless and provide healing to the broken through our actions and words, then perhaps those deeds will overshadow the darkness in this world. The light has not died. You are the light and together we can shine brighter than those who wish to squelch the fire.
Please don't mishear me . . . there are definitely times when safety requires privacy or caution but when I let the stories of sadness and trouble lead my life, I let those who spread hate and danger win.
Do you live in fear? Do you let what you read online or hear in the news dictate all of your life choices? If we hide away then we let evil win.
What is gripping you and holding you back from taking the next step in life? It's okay to remember as I did when I sat on those rocks listening to the waves crash before me. But don't forget to get off those rocks and keep walking. You have so much life to live and so much to give!