by Heather Molvik
Washington, Idaho, Montana, British Columbia
What is a "Coming of Age" moment? I always imagined it to be an adolescent phenomena, accompanied by some sort of event to mark the occasion, like a quinceañera or the coach's pat on your back for making the winning play. You know, obvious stuff like that.
Unfortunately for myself, I've always been a bit of a late bloomer and try as I may, terrible at sports-- something about needing hand-eye coordination and balance. And for the life of me, I haven't been able to recall a particular event in which I felt that I transitioned into the adult world. Not after traveling to Europe. Not after my college graduation. Not after starting to make payments on my student loan and traveling to Europe bills.
That is, up until a year ago. A year ago tomorrow to be exact. When I was clambering up a mountain on likely one of the worst Tinder outings of my life, clutching my DSLR to my side in an effort to protect it from the thigh-high slush we were wading through. His name is Edwin. He talks a lot, walks quickly and doesn't slow down for much aside from free food. After about an hour of our frozen swim-hiking, he decided to finally stop off at a tree, bent over from the weight of the snow to sit down for a break.
He asked me about my camera. I fessed up that I had received it as a graduation gift from my parents and didn't know much about it though I was trying to learn through practice. He asks to see it. I hand it over. He sees my mode set to "Auto" and starts flipping through menu options, clicking buttons and mumbling information about shooting in manual, sensor sizes, shooting in RAW, and other nonsense. He must have looked up from the camera to see the vacant, almost fearful look on my face. He leans over and says, "Look. The F-stop is your aperture size and changes the depth of field among other things. Try to keep your ISO as low as possible to start with and adjust your shutter speed from there".
I realized in time that this crazy person, later to become my best friend, and his little lesson over the bent tree would change my life. In becoming more acquainted with my camera over the next year, I found myself tagging along or creating new adventures, pursuing any opportunity to create. From documenting my more domestic cooking challenges at home to the bizarre, break dancing and parkour events I had become immersed in, everyday was a new possibility. Did I want to climb one of the grandiose Pacific Northwest mountains this day? Or would I rather stay home and draw, sipping on coffee? I didn't always have time to wait for my friends to tag along and had to learn to become independent and appreciate it. When else would I get the chance to drive northward into Canada with no destination in mind, sleep in my back seat and mooch off the wifi from nearby cafes for a week? I think Thoreau would approve.
Anyways, a year ago tomorrow, on January 25th, I had a coming of age moment. It wasn't my preconceived notion of doing adult things and accepting the accompanying adult responsibilities but the moment I discovered that the world is ours and we have the freedom to do whatever we desire with it. The notion is almost overwhelmingly nauseating when one truly realizes the extent of opportunities available to us. Everyday brings new opportunities and my camera has allowed me to capture some of these moments. My camera also happens to be the commemoration of my coming of age. What's yours?
Get The Summit Delivered to Your Inbox
"Create Your Own Experiences"
by Kettler Thomas
The Summit is created by a team of guest writers and photographers.
Header photo courtesy of Kyle Sipple