Richard Dama, LPC, Counseling & Clinical Hypnotherapy

The Person Behind the Camera

Today I’d like to speak to the importance of being mindful of our actions and always acting with the intention of sharing kindness and compassion. The accompanying photograph is a prime example of this in action.

The picture is (literally) of my bride and myself arriving in Rome, Italy, for our honeymoon. We had just gotten off the plane and we were dead tired. We hosted our own wedding reception at the Ft. Snelling, MN (Airport area in Minneapolis), so we had to stay until the party was over to settle accounts with the Officers’ Club. Since we were the center of attention and had a rather large crowd, we spent most of the early evening working the room greeting and thanking the attendees; hence we missed most of our own wedding dinner. Add to that half a room full of alcohol infused Italians and a great band and Susan and I spent the rest of the evening dancing, drinking and stomping out fires with the club staff as they started to smolder. We didn’t get to leave until almost 2:00 A. M., knowing our flight for Rome left in four hours.

Starved, we stopped at a Burger King on the way to the hotel and caused a bit of a stir as both Susan and I were still in full wedding regalia; full wedding gown and formal military uniform. The only thing we were missing was an arch of swords.

By the time we made it back to the room, Susan and I looked at each other and said, “We have the rest of our life to screw. We’ll get to it when we get to Italy (don’t worry, we more than made up for lost time. We even had one hotel manager give us a wink while he moved our room to an isolated part of the building so we could be as loud as we wanted…but that’s another blog.)

So now we come to the picture. What you see is two kids, madly in love and full of optimism and big dreams for the future, who had had about 4 hours sleep in the last 72; we were operating on automatic pilot. It’s a good thing I speak Italian or we may have ended up on a train to Bulgaria and not realize it until we were surrounded by shoestring factories (Nuke Targeting Team joke).

Somewhere between baggage claim and the taxi stand outside we obviously stopped someone and asked them to take the first picture of us on our honeymoon. I have absolutely no memory of who took the picture, or if they were even male or female.

Now, here’s the whole point of this essay. That one person took about 15 seconds to snap the picture; no big deal. However, this picture has become an icon throughout our network of extended family and friends (my Tribe). It someone in the family pulls it out every year to commemorate our anniversary and other Rich and Susan milestones.

That one short, simple act of taking a photo has had a large impact on thousands of people over the past 32 years. That act of random (and probably mindless) generosity produced an item of ‘art’ that has continued to send ripples through, and have a visceral effect on, most people in our network for over three decades… The fact that you’re reading this now, means that you have now been touched by the ripple in the pond of time that that anonymous person created.

My point is that, one person took a few seconds from what was probably and equally hectic and tiring journey of their own, and took a picture of a young and predominantly clueless couple of young, lovesick kids. By taking that picture, that anonymous person (assuredly unknowingly) cast a pebble in our time-pond and the ripples have been spreading through the world ever since.

Singer/Songwriter Carrie Newcomer has a song entitled Stones in the River where she sings:

So today we’ll drop stones into the river

And the current takes them out into forever

And the truth is most of us will never know

Where our best intentions go

And still we’ll drop another stone.

You never know when a seemingly insignificant action on your part will have unintended consequences for generations. The only way to ensure you are leaving behind of legacy of kindness and generosity, please approach every encounter with another person as a conscious opportunity to drop a stone into the river with the mental intention of compassion, kindness and love. Then allow the current to carry your act and intentions into forever. You will probably never know where your best intentions go, but isn’t it nice to know that you can have a positive, yet unintended impact on eternity?

Here’s hoping you have an intentionally great, compassionate and generous day.


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