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  • Writer's pictureMandella Green



by Dewitt Jones

(This video is the talk from DeWitt's own website filled with wonder and beauty. Recommended!)

"...The ‘Geographic’ has an extraordinary vision-- so simple yet so profound. What they charged me with, every time they sent me out, was to celebrate what was right with the world, rather than wallowing in what was wrong with it.

When I first began at the Geographic, I had no idea how powerful that vision would be, how much it would change my life. But our vision controls our perception, and our perception becomes our reality. From the highest mountains, to rivers drenched in sunlight, to waterfalls and rainbows. Everywhere I looked there would be amazing beauty for me to photograph. And, you know, in the Geographic’s view, man was not something separate from this [mand was] just as magical as anything else on the planet. And the more I just went out and celebrated the best in humanity, the more I could see it. I could see that light, that light that shines not on us, but from within us. From within us when we have the courage to let it out. It was the same light that I'd seen in nature that didn’t seem to have to trust to expose itself but just graced us every day with the delicacy of a flower, or the light of a breaking storm." Dewitt Jones

“Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it's having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome. Vulnerability is not weakness; it's our greatest measure of courage.” Brene Brown

"And yet the more I shot for the Geographic, the more I found this strange conflict growing up between the world view of the Geographic, and the world view that I’d been raised in since I was a kid. You all know it-- the law of the jungle-- Eat or be eaten. My win is your loss. Second place is the first loser! (laughter) I once saw that on a T-shirt. That is a very depressing way to look at life. (Laughter) Far too many of us do see the world in that light-- a world based on fear and scarcity and competition. But that’s not what nature was showing me. Nature was showing me incredible beauty and possibility …

I'll fill it up with beauty and possibility beyond your wildest imaginings. Right down to my tiniest seed. And that was just a much more elegant philosophy, a much more compassionate way of looking at the universe. And at some point, I just decided to embrace it. I just decided that if I had a choice between a world based on scarcity and fear and one based on possibility, then, man, I was choosing possibility. And no matter how dry and desolate, how bleak and devoid of possibilities the situation might seem, if I could just celebrate the best in it.

Through that lens of celebration, I could see one of nature's most important lessons-- There's more than one right answer. There’s more than one right answer. There are a thousand ways to come at any challenge to find that extraordinary view...So many things begin to change when you come at the world from that perspective of more than one right answer. First of all, you never look for just one right answer. There’s always more. But then as you begin to find more and more of them, you just get more and more comfortable with reframing obstacles into opportunities."

Dewitt Jones


"Teddy Roosevelt is one of American history's heroes who notoriously sought out and embraced hardship because of the unmatched he'd opportunity it afforded for growth. While serving as United States president, he looked forward to spending weekends leading his young children, along with any friends, cabinet members, or dignitaries, who might be visiting, on what he affectionally termed "scrambles." This hiking game was usually played at Rock Creek Park, a large wilderness area ew the White House, but he could make it work most anywhere. President Roosevelt would choose an identifiable landmark on a distant ridge and then challenge everyone to join him in a "point to point" walk, not "turning aside for anything,." the only rule was simple: proceed in a straight Lin until you reach the designated endpoint. Of course, that was easier said than done. When the net an obstacle I their path, players could go over, under or through, but never around. Avoidance was against the rules, which mean the the route might require scaling a boulder, digging under a felled tree, or swimming across a stream. The children loved the adventure, returning home quite muddy and tattered, but proud of themselves for not giving up, and eager for the next family scramble.

Social scientist would term the obstructions the children faced during the scrambles, "desirable difficulties.: They've found that learning that emerges through meaningful challenging experiences more durable than learning that comes easily."

Eve and Adam: Discovering the Beautiful Balance by Melinda Wheelright Brown, p. 121

..."Puff balls, puff balls-- pretty soon I'm down on the ground with the puffballs. I'm rolling around with the puffballs. I'm on top of the puffballs. I'm underneath the puffballs. And all of a sudden-- Whoa! (Laughter) Whoa! That extraordinary view. It always seemed to be there when I had looked through that lens of celebration. Extraordinary image, but I can already hear the cynics grumbling, “Dewitt, you’re such a pollyanna, (Laughter) The world is in flames-- war, terrorism, poverty, global warming. And you’re shooting puffballs! (Laughter) Well, to the cynics I say, “Change your lens!” Celebrating what’s right is not a perspective that denies the very real pain and suffering that exists on this planet. Rather, it’s a perspective that puts those problems into a larger, more balanced, context. A context when we can see that there’s far more right with the world than there is wrong with it.

When I put on that lens of celebration, when I really allow myself to see and connect with the beauty of the world, I feel like I’m a cup that’s so full it’s just about to overflow. I feel… I feel like I’m falling in love. The whole world is beautiful, and you are so full and so fired up. And that doesn't surprise me, because when we're in love, we're in touch with a source of incredible energy. We call it-- Passion! Passion! What most of us wouldn’t give to be connected to the energy of passion on a daily basis. Well, extraordinary visions do that, they release passion. So no matter how strange a situation that I walk into, the first thing I'm going to ask, ”What’s here to celebrate? What am I falling in love with?” Dewitt Jones

“I saw an angel in the stone, and carved to set it free.” "I saw an angel in the stone… and carved to set it free.” Michelangelo

"Change your lens, change your life! I lecture all over the country... to all different kinds of people. And you know what? They all hunger for this lens of celebration. They all want to try it on. We all have it. It’s right there waiting to be picked up. Why don’t we do it? Maybe, it’s because every day the internet and the media bombard us with all that’s wrong with the world. And it’s so easy to buy into it. It's so easy to stare into that darkness. But wouldn’t you rather focus on the light rather than the dark? Wouldn’t you rather focus on what’s right rather than what’s wrong? That’s the change we make when we put on that lens of celebration. Do I have that lens on all the time? No, come on, I’m human.

And, you know, the beauty of that world-- our world, shows us a wonderful example of how to live, of how to love. Of a banquet laid, of a cup overflowing. And I know that if we let that beauty fill us up, that we, too, will overflow, and it'll come out in everything we do. In the ideals we hold, in the passion and compassion we feel, in the love we are no longer afraid to express. That perspective, that lens, it will change your life, as it has changed mine. See that vision, my friends, and celebrate... what’s right with the world! " Dewitt Jones

FEAR IS A REACTION, Courage is a decision. Sir Winston Churchill


"One cannot but be in awe when contemplating the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery each day. Never lose a holy curiosity." Albert Einstein

~Old Man's Advice to Youth: 'Never Lose a Holy Curiosity.'" LIFE Magazine (2 May 1955) p. 64”

by Gemma Correll

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