February 7, 2007 – Mobile, AL
Joyce Lin
Photo Intern /Press-Register / Mobile, AL

I dreamed, a few nights ago, that I slid off the road while driving, crashing into a deep ditch. Much like the Fall, the accident itself happened too quickly for me to remember anything, but my body was in great pain--- all too familiar pain, like after the Fall. Aghast, I stare at my bloodied hands and feel my ripped up face, my mind screaming, “No! Not after taking so long to recover. Not after I am finally free. Not again…”

I’m sitting on a dock overlooking the bay in Mobile, AL, my body bathed in sunlight. It’s the first warm day since I’ve gotten here, a month ago. The winter has been unusually chilly. Although I just drove here from below-freezing Montana, I’m still cold and pile on clothes everyday, fingers and toes numb as I bike to work.

Work. How to make money and survive in the rat-race capitalist society that most Americans conform to and consider “civilized.” A question I mulled over, digested, then shat out before graduating from UCLA in June 2006. Work. I won’t follow the standard grid. I still want to do photography, maybe photojournalism… but I’ll let it take a rest.

I quit my photo-editing job at my college paper and really started to live, suddenly having free time. I got active in, among other things, the biking community, campus sustainability, and rock-climbing. I then graduated, a few months later, ecstatic to be “free” and with only a fuzzy idea of “what next.”

I photograph in Hawaii for a news convention, learn wilderness survival in the southern Utah desert, explore the rest of Utah, photograph for another convention in San Francisco, almost die falling off a mountain in the Sierras (the Fall)
, recover in Los Angeles, volunteer on southern California farms, hike a lot, patrol with the Buffalo Field Campaign in Montana, drive from Los Angeles to Alabama, and am now here in Mobile on my second formal photo-internship, wondering why I’m in Alabama, and why I’m still here on Earth.

Sierra Crest rangers helicopter me out of the Kings' Canyon range, where I fell while attempting Giraud Peak. You can read more about the Fall here:

After the Fall, I reevaluated my goals, passions, and talents, trying to find my life’s purpose. Photography. I want to make a splash with my photography. What am I doing, teaching thankless children survival skills, romping around in the Utah desert, happy but useless to the world? If I really want to make a difference with my photography, then I should go forth and do so. Or at least get started.

I apply for as many photo internships as I can find. The Mobile Press-Register is first to call, “We’d love for you to join our team…” I start crying over the phone, masking my emotional happiness with, as calmly as I can, “I accept the internship.” The dream is thus rekindled. I’m back on the path. I can’t believe it.

So far, Alabama has been a violent rollercoaster ride, to say in the least. From almost eight months of free-roaming post-graduation unemployed wildness to, once more, cubicles, schedules, cars, and money, I can only totter about in a half-depressed stun. I can’t believe I’m doing this to myself, subjecting myself to “the system,” in all of its jail-like blackness, once again.

But, as every good photographer knows, there’s light in every darkness. The trick is to see the light, focus on it, and then, with a slow shutter speed, voila! Admire the big picture, instead of some nastier details, and really take the time to marvel at its beauty. Biking is probably the best part of each day; I feel so free. Oftentimes, making photos for work, lovely though that sounds, becomes tedious “work.” Outside of the newsroom, I’m involved in my new community, and am finding my niche amongst the artists, cyclists, and college students of the area. I love exploring, randomly finding new awesome people and places. I’m slowly falling in love with this place, and growing accustomed to my daily pattern: morning exercises, relocation to the newsroom to grab my assignment(s), get out and make photos, return to edit, then bust back out in the evening for a plethora of night-activities: biking, hanging out with buddies, piano, painting, tree-climbing, and general revelry that keeps me sane.

After my internship with the Press-Register ends, I plan to bike back to Los Angeles, rock out in the Black Rock Desert with other Burning Man hippies, then either lead people up Guatemala volcanoes as an adventure guide, return to Utah to do both freelance photography and wilderness therapy, sail around the world with some randomly met but awesome dudes who also want to change the world, or just continue on my bike journey and play it by ear, making life up as I go along.

I fall asleep to the sound of my own breathing, as the night envelops me in its darkness, starlight knocking on my windows, my thoughts a riotous thunder in my mind, my heart straining against my chest. I am only one. I know I am not alone. But, who is this “I”?

Joyce Lin, (author), half a year and too many more adventures later, overlooking Mobile Bay.


Joyce Lin




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