It’s ok to follow your passion and live your dream

There’s a film maker in town that wants to make a documentary about me and my travels.  Well, the documentary really isn’t about me I guess, but will use a lot of my photographs and some stories about the victories – and challenges – I’ve run into on the road.

The real purpose of the film is to get people to follow their passion and maybe more than that – it’s to challenge people to follow their passion.

I met a woman in Laramie, Wyoming who had just come out of an abusive marriage to an alcoholic husband.  Her dream in life has been to go to Fiji.  This documentary tells her it’s ok to follow her dream.

I met a 86 year old woman in Sand Point, Idaho who’s husband had died after 60 some years of marriage.  Her dream?  To start an herb garden outside the kitchen door.  This tells her it’s ok to follow her dream.

Several years ago in April, I met another lady one time in Jackson, Mississippi.  Her name was Mamie and she was 78 years old.  I stayed at Ms Mamie’s house in the country two nights with her and her husband.  The second night there as we sat around the beat up kitchen table she started telling me about her life and dream.

As a small black girl growing up in the dusty Mississippi Delta it was against the law for her to go to school past the fifth grade; her dream?  To get her GED and continue on to college.

I listened to her story and when she was finished, I asked her, “Ms. Mamie, why don’t you do it?” 

“Lawd have mercy Mr. Jerry.  Do you know how old I’ll be in four years if I do that?”

I smiled, nodded and asked her, “Well, Ms. Mamie.  How old will you be in four years if you don’t?”

Like I said, that was April of that year.  Along about August or September, I got an email from her.  She had gone to summer school at the local adult learning center and had gotten her GED.  The same day she sent the email, she had enrolled in the community college.

Ms. Mamie had decided to follow her dream.  Those are the type people that is documentary is truly for.

What I’ve been told by people-in-the-know is the first step of a documentary is to have a “film treatment” written.  A good friend of mine, Barbie Angell, has stepped up to the plate and written it and done a helluva job.

I’m told the next step is to get a ‘trailer’ made that can be shopped around with the film treatment to potential investors.  I’ve been lucky and have some high powered investors lined up to see the trailer once it’s made and if you’ve been following along on Facebook, you know who some of those people are.

But first the trailer.  If you’d like, click the PayPal button and dump a dollar or into into my change jar.  You’ll be helping to take the second step towards helping people something I’ve been blessed to already know – it’s ok to follow your passion.

Here’s the film treatment by Barbie.  I like it.  A lot.

“I see it.  I shoot it.  I live it.” ~ Jerry Nelson, Photojournalist

Nelson’s mission statement says it all.  Encompassed in those three short sentences, a way of life can be found.  Some days that means being in a helicopter looking over the iconic M*A*S*H set, while others involve being surrounded by law enforcement agents to protect him from a drug cartel—or being arrested at an Occupy Wall Street raid. Whatever is required of him, Jerry Nelson is living his work.  More than that, he is living his dreams.

There is no story of how Jerry’s career was launched by good luck, nor is there a rich aunt who pays for his travels.  The facts are far more simple; he just went out and did it.  With that decision came sacrifices.  He lives out of a rucksack and spends his days away from the people who are most important in his life.  He’s lost friends and loves, but it has been worth it.  Nelson is making a difference with his photos—telling the stories that might otherwise remain untold, and bringing a human aspect to triumphs and tragedies around the country.  His camera is a conduit for events that are making a difference, both good and bad; and with his camera he brings the rest of us on his travels.

There is nothing extraordinary about Jerry Nelson, except the bravery of pursuing his passions.  That, in itself, is an inspirational act.  Most of us put off the big things that we want to do.  We tell ourselves that eventually there will be a “good time” for us to begin following our dream.  That ideal moment may only last a minute; the perfect time to write that novel, start a family or open a small business may never come.  The only chance we may have is to simply make these things happen.  Whether we do it in our own communities or take on the world at large, as Jerry has done, the time to do it is now.

Jerry is often asked, “How can I do what you do?” and his response is always the same, “What are you willing to give up?”  It is never too late to start living your dreams.  It is never the wrong time to make a difference in the world.  All it takes is one tool; the desire to do it.


Barbie Angell
Writer, Poet, Artist, Thinker

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