Serve the Cause of Greater Things

For some reason, I found my self wide awake just a few minutes after midnight.  For the next few hours, my mind raced hither and yon, thinking of all the years that followed a very close call with death in 1998.  THAT had been my wake up call, but I did not listen.  Instead, after the memories of that event faded, I went back to being the same old me.  Thinking of promotions that would bring even greater influxes of money that would allow me to buy another expensive fountain pen, that high-end watch I always wanted, the next computer game (that robbed my family not only of money, but also my time), the camera body I upgraded every two years (sometimes sooner) with something newer, or all the lenses I told myself I “needed” for my photography.  As a well-paid expat, I was living in a bubble and I remained there… comfortably numb, year, after year, after year.  It was not until I had the opportunity to spend three months away from all the “distractions” and “noise” of that bubble that all this became clear, however.   We spent much of that time in Redding, California (16% unemployment, including too many homeless Veterans recently returned from Afghanistan and Iraq who were, quite literally, begging in the streets).  I encountered very similar “real life” during my 2 1/2 week exploration on historic Route 66, people not worried about the next big screen 3D HD TV, but trying to figure out how to feed themselves and their loved ones that day.  Take the photograph you see before you.  While exploring this particular abandoned building, less than a couple of miles from the stadium in St. Louis where the Cardinals and the Rangers had played just the night before, I met a homeless man, a recently returned Veteran who’s been forgotten.  He had set up camp (a tent) just out of view of this shot.  If you think he had NOTHING, you’d be right.  Well, almost nothing.  He had faith and he had pride.  It’s why he raised the Star-Spangled Banner for all to see.  He may have been forgotten, but he never forgot why he risked his life over there; he served the cause of greater things, and he still did, and may God bless him abundantly.  Those three months outside the bubble changed me, and I’m never looking back, but what I will do is share things that I saw and experienced during that time (when I feel compeled to do so), in hopes that it helps someone else out there get “REAL” sooner than the 45 years it took me.  All I ask of you right now, is that you do one completely selfless act today for another (it doesn’t have to be big, it just has to be selfless).  That’s it.

Addendum:  Eric Walter, an awesome photographer based in St. Louis (where I shot today’s photograph), sent me the link to a great photograph he shot of the same flag, but from the outside.  It’s just awesome, so check it out by clicking anywhere on this ‘Addendum’ message.

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Thank you!

Jacques, you made my day a little brighter and if you continue to live your narrative, which I’m sure you will, this world will be a whole lot better place.
I’m going to share your image and words.
Thank you.
On another note, i did my first “real” urbex yesterday. I gotta tell ya I was, understated, a wee bit nervous but it was daylight so that helped. I found an abandoned motel on Rte. 192, Kissimmee, Fl, near Disney. Walkng into abandoned motel rooms was darn creepy. I shoulda spent more time but I felt I had overstayed my visit.

You are most welcome, John! And thank you!

Thanks, Bob! Very cool that you shot your first URBEX! Very cool, indeed. Send me a link to the pics!

Moving post. Great image. And I did a couple small ones tonight.

Awesome. I’m honored to be able to call you ‘friend.’

Hey Bob L: You and I got to chat a little about this when we met, and I’m so glad we did. I think you understand exactly where I’m coming from on this, and I, too, am honored to call you ‘friend’.

Thanks you, Chris! It is I who am humbled that this resonated with you. That reminds me: I’m not sure how often I will allow myself to speak openly like I did here, but one of the things I’d like to address one day is “humility”. I suppose there wil come a time, like this post, when it is right for me to do so.

I’d love to discuss this with you off line sometime, Rob. I’d be interested in hearing about what happened to you in 1994. And you are so right about the ‘veil’ being removed. I never believed in such things, but now I feel foolish that I ever doubted.

Jaques, I’m humbled by the sentiment and the image that accompanies it.

There’s probably nothing I like more than when a friend reveals the deeper side of themselves, as you’ve done here. It’s often difficult to convey interior feelings in this venue, but you’ve done so in a powerful and moving way.

And nothing is more surprising than when we wake up one day and understand the difference between the life we’ve been living and where we need to go next. (That happened for me in ’94.) It’s like the lifting of a veil; things become more clear.

Many are awakening to a new view of reality — so know that you’re not alone — but it can be unsettling nonetheless. It all starts with the heart, and we can see that yours has opened. Stay awake, friend, and stay REAL.

awesome shot, and so cool so see you post another one of my city. I actually have a shot of the flag from the outside here

Even more incredible is your post and acknowledgement of what really matters in life. There are little camps all over that area (Chouteau’s Landing). My brother and I explored down there a bit this past summer.It definitely puts things in perspective. Great post!

and if I forgot to mention, the shot and processing are incredible! ( as always)

A typical Jacques Gude masterful urbex image, kind sentiments, and an apparent epiphany about the pursuit of the almighty dollar and the real important things in life. You’ve got it all in this post, just keep sharing Jacques Gude here.

Great post Jacques, and you can’t imagine how much your words resonate with me! It really made me think about a lot of things. Thanks a lot for sharing this great post with us!

Eric: Hey, man! Just linked back to your awesome shot of this flag. I really dig it, and am sure others will as well!

Wayne and Luís: I’m humbled, truly! Thank you so very much. I was not sure how folks would take my post, but it was something I was moved to do. It’s amazing how different life feels to me now. In fact, I’ve even tossed a long time dream of mine (to buy a Leica M9 and a lens or 2) onto the trash heap. It’s a long story, but bottom line is I know I don’t ‘need’ it, even though I can afford it. I think I’ll try to put my money to better use. I’m also not planning to upgrade my D700, even when Nikon releases a new FX body. Instead, I plan to send the D700 in to Nikon over the Christmas holidays we’ll spend together in Redding, California (I’ll shoot only with the X100 and the iPhone during that time). Lot’s of little things to have them fix up for me to get it back to new!

Astonishing! What a great, great post, Jacques. Profound and enlightening, I found myself paused here for a bit today fully taking it all in.

now, if the multimillion dollar earning recording stars would share some pittance of their earnings to help the likes of the homeless man/vet you met after his/their giving some much for us to have all we have. to be able to travel and shoot and post.

mostly though, i wish they’d get the f(*#$Ing words to our National Anthem right when they sing it. and remember what this great nation was founded upon. and the loss of life and limb that really occurred ‘back in the day’ –>Valley Forge, when General Washington and his men fought so that we can be here doing what we do today….GOD BLESS AMERICA. AND GOD BLESS THE HOMELESS VET AND EACH AND EVERY VET OR MAN OR WOMAN IN UNIFORM FOR WHAT THEY GAVE, GIVE and MIGHT GIVE.

Thanks Scott (Toad)!

Hear, hear, brother Chris! I’m so thankful that I grew up in the time when we were still able to say the Pledge of Allegiance in school, and that I grew up knowing the National Anthem. It DOES bug me when an American doesn’t know the words, especially a celebrity or another who performs it publicly. I’m blessed to have both of my daughters in a school where they both say the Pledge of Allegiance every school day, but they are also praying in school every day.