This is the first in what I’m hoping will be a series of twelve (or so) posts about single images from the past year. A little background story to the images and why they are important to me.

It’s the time of the year and the decade (depending on the definition you choose) when we as humans like to reflect on the past and speculate on the future both.

Personally, the year and decade both, as I’m sure it is was for most, consisted of highs, lows and a whole lot of in-between. Life has a way of moving inexorably forward despite our best efforts, especially as we get older to take our foot off the accelerator and slow things down if even for a moment. Personal tragedies, misfortunes and challenges both at home and at work are tempered by moments of joy, inspiration and triumph as long as we choose to look for them.

These moments for me are often captured in images and this decade was no different. The challenging moment almost always balanced by an inspirational one. The images may not always be technically perfect or compositionally the best but they matter to me. This image – “Watching the Saharan Sun” is one of those.

This fall one of those life challenges, in this case self-inflicted, turned out to be one of those times of joy, inspiration and triumph.

A planned first group trip, since a class trip in high school, in any case, bought out all the concerns that introverts reflect on as they sit on a six-hour plane flight. The biggest and most consuming of them all? Why?

Why a group trip? You’re a travelling soloist.
Why Morocco? Plenty of closer, culturally safer destinations to choose from.
Why did I bring so many pairs of socks?….

As usual in these scenarios, these worries turned out to be absolutely unnecessary to what proved an amazing experience with an even more amazing group of people.

The G Adventures group consisting of six Canadians (Vancouver, Winnipeg, Toronto and Brinston represented), three Germans, one German-American, two Brits and two Australians and of course our local guide became closer, faster than any group I’ve ever been part of.

Over the years I’ve been in the position many times of trying to bring groups of people together as a coach, sometimes successfully, sometimes not so successfully. In all those situations I’ve never seen a group come together as quickly as this group did and bond as well as we did. With very few exceptions, every outing became a group outing, every meal a family gathering – it was marvellous to watch and exceptional to be a part of.

Inside jokes, favourite music, daily photo contests, teasing and group colloquialisms and banter all became just part of the daily “joie de vivre” the group shared as we hiked mountain paths, rode camels, endured bus rides and shopped yet another medina. The shared sense of discovery and exploration was the mortar holding this new construct together.

This image, probably my favourite from the trip, captures the group high atop a sand dune in the Sahara desert waiting for the sun to go down. Taken a few days from the end of the trip it captures the essence of what the trip became – a shared experience that no one involved will ever forget.

So in no particular order, thanks to Stefan, Christin, Hayley, Paul, Leo, Theresa, Maria, Andrea, Rob, Dalio, Chris, Mel, Elly and Hussein for making 2019 another year in which the inspirational came out ahead of the obstacles.

“Yalla! We’re not here to f*ck spiders!!” – Truer words were never spoken.

The whole group by day twelve…

The image was shot on my phone camera – a Samsung S10.