Mark Twain pointed out that the two
most important days in our lives are the day we were born and the day we find
out why. As insightful as that is, the "why" didn't happen for me on one day as
much as over the many days on the road.
We can wax spiritual and
introspective but for me it came down to what I do, what I'll leave behind,
whether I will look back from my deathbed and smile.
Running toward me with the answer
was a young girl barely out of diapers, with her mom in pursuit. Her little
face spoke not only of the joy of escape, but of a declaration that she was the
superhero in her yet short life story. My day job, where I spend so much of my
day, lacked that hero potential.
Some of my shutterbug pals don't
know that I'm on a rough schedule where I shoot after dawn and again before
sunset, what we call the golden hour. In between, I'm often cranking on my
laptop in the office in my RV. Bizware's clients don't know or care where I am
as long as budgets and schedules are respected.
So it was that I reviewed all my
projects from the perspective of that joyful little girl, looking for hero
possibilities. The paths meandered and crossed, but they kept converging on
Web4VI is a project to use prison
inmate labor to produce website versions suitable for the visually impaired.
The US has far more prisoners than any other country, mostly repeat offenders,
staring at their cell walls while their job skills atrophy. Upon release,
Web4VI would give them a shot at jobs with a future and breaking the recidivism
cycle endemic to our system. That their work product would also open the web to
blind people would be better than a cape with colored panty hose.
As much as we geeks live to
telework, launching Web4VI would require my intense on-site presence at a
prison, dealing quickly with the surprises endemic to such innovations. The
choice grew clear. My carefree life on the road would have to end, replaced by
its opposite. I would have to go to prison.
My camera and I now wander with
added zeal, knowing that my summer will end, and 2017 will put me among men who
do not know waterfalls and chipmunks. But the legacy will be more worthwhile
than my hedonistic pursuits.