Frank Robertson is a colleague who graduated from South Dakota State University shortly before I enrolled in the fall of 1995 and went on to work as a photographer for the Argus Leader, and then a photographer and multimedia editor for the Chillicothe Gazette in Chillicothe, Ohio. He recently returned to Brookings to take over as a professor of photojournalism at his (and mine) beloved SDSU.
Frank is one of the finest human beings you’ll find anywhere. His skill as a photographer is exceeded only by his gentle and caring soul and there is no question that Brookings is a better community with him in it.
I’ve kept in touch with Frank only through Facebook — one of the few redeeming qualities of the social media stalwart. I enjoy reading what he has to say about life through insight and encouragement. He’s a positive guy, and Lord knows we need as much of that as we can get in this divisive day and age.
Last week he posted this:
“Random thought while traveling today: Passengers in a plane seem to sum up the human experience — human beings being human. I boarded the plane behind a young boy, no more than 4, with his young mother. He was in full adventure mode. His mother was trying hard to share his adventures, but I sensed adventure wasn’t the reason for their adventure. An elderly woman sits in front of me, watching with sad eyes the tarmac pass out the window as we pull away from the gate. A young lady with Adidas-clad feet anxiously tucked-up taps away on her phone waiting for wheels-up. The young man sitting next to her exudes loss — possibly having either said a goodbye for the last or going somewhere, out there, to say a last goodbye. We’re a plane full of people precariously passing amongst the clouds at 18,000 feet, all of us facing our own tribulations and celebrations, hoping to safely arrive at our destinations — not unlike our species on this planet as a whole.”
We are coming to the end of another year, and I like the timing of Frank’s observation from the plane. When it comes right down to it, that’s all we are — a giant group of people each finding our way through this world.
It’s so easy to get lost in all the noise of politics, religious differences, economic realities and social conflicts like global warming, gun control and sexual identity issues. That my opinion may be different from yours doesn’t change the fact that we’re all here, doing our best with the information we have (or the circumstances we were born into) as part of the human family. I am no better than you. You are no better than me.
Frank’s observation from his seat on the plane, with worlds coming together in time and space, is a beautiful one and an important reminder as we head into a new time. May we all be better in 2018.
And Happy New Year.