Monday, February 1, 2010

Take a Picture, it Lasts Longer

Have you ever heard of Kevin Connolly?   Until I caught a few minutes of the XGames and the mono skiing event, I hadn't.  I can't even say I knew there was such a thing as mono skiing.  But, once I looked up, I coulnd't break my gaze.  Connolly is not your typical ice-luge XGames skier.  As you'll see from the picture, he was born without legs.

The last few heats of skiers flying down the icy mountain luges hadn't been all that exciting, but this guy was.  Connolly raced against 2 other mono skiers, each with their own physical challenge.  Right off the bat, one guy took a huge spill, hit his head and broke a piece of his equipment.  Then it was just Connolly chasing the guy in first place.   He didn't win, but he did capture my attention.  

His name stayed with me, so I looked him up.  He's a champion skier, a world-traveling college graduate, and a photographer.  The more and more I read about him, I saw that there was a common thread woven into all 23 years of his life.  He has always been stared at.  Being frank, I can understand why.   Americans, and humans in general, just aren't good with deformity, or really anything that makes someone or something different than the accepted norm.  But, in his short 23 years, Connolly has accomplished a lot. As I read the online review of his book Double Take,  one thing caught my attention:

Connolly also shares his memories of an important, defining moment: when he decided to use photography to gaze back at the people who stared at him. “Each photo was a miniature catharsis,” he writes, adding, “Finally, I was able to find my own use for that stare, and it felt good.”

What an awesome way to find purpose through the challenges that life throws at you.  It wasn't a matter of ignoring or overcoming the stares.  Of course some were rooted  in pure human curiosity, and I'm sure some were rooted in ignorance and malice.  But through photography he found the wisdom to channel that energy and make it his own.  Wow.

(Photo courtesy of

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