It’s My Birthday….

I've been called Forrest Gump so many times...

…well, not really. My 56th birthday isn’t for a few weeks yet, but it is that time of year. Every year around the middle of November I start to thinking about all that’s happened to me over the past twelve months. This year isn’t any different. But first, let me share something I realized today.

I think I’ve led a charmed life. Some would probably say a “Forrest Gump” type of life. You know those moments and experiences that only the existence of serendipity can explain? During my three cross country hikes and bikes, I ran into a lot of people that compared me and my adventures to the legendary Forrest Gump. Heck, if I had a dollar for everytime I’ve been labeled that…well, I’d be fairly well off.

A lot of what I’ve had the opportunity to experience was during my time in the Navy. Unfortunately, much of that experience is still classified. But you can get to the story if you want just by doing a little digging and research on Cryptologic Technicians and the events that I brushed up close to from the early 70s to the mid 80s.

Life since the Navy has been a grand adventure also. Pastoring two churches in Virginia, being an alcohol and drug counselor, working in admin at a few hospitals and doing fairly good in sales.

Over the past five years, I’ve been traveling, shooting and writing. Sometimes with great success, more often just with mediocre results. But I’ve hung in there and kept at it. I don’t know any other way to do it. But yah, I agree, my life has definitely taken on shades of Forrest Gump.

After a slow start this year because of my involvement with Asheville Homeless Network, things took off. Shooting on the Snake River in Wyoming; hiking a portion of the Appalachian Trail with the S.W.E.A.T. Crew; doing a 50 mile march with protestors on the March to Blair Mountain in West Virginia; shooting OccupyWS in Manhattan as well as OccupyDC in – well – Washington DC; photographing Rick Perry in Indianapolis and riding a replica of a 16th century sailing ship in the Atlantic and photographed a leading presidential candidate for France at The National Press Club. Now I’m freelancing for The Washington Times, the second largest paper in the nation’s capital AND I pick up my White House credentials this week. I’ve lived out the classic story – Boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl, boy loses girl. It’s been a year of tremendous highs and lonely and tearful lows…yep…this ol’ boy has been all over the map during his 55th trip around the sun.

So in a few weeks I start trip #56 around the sun. Can’t wait to see what the next twelve months has in store…I’ll keep you posted!

Jerry Nelson is a nationally recognized photojournalist. His work has appeared in many national, regional and local publications including CNN, USAToday, Upsurge, Earthwalkers and Associated Content. Nelson travels the country seeking out the people, places and things that make America unique and great. Nelson currently is in Washington D.C. pointing his camera at OccupyDC and freelancing for The Washington Times the second largest paper in the nation’s capital.

CLICK HERE to see more of Nelson’s work or to hire him for a shoot.

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