"You live a charmed life Mr. La Roque" the lady tells me as I'm checking in, "We've upgraded you to the Mezzanine Suite, free of charge" she continues, smiling. Well, ok then...the suite it is. I just drove in to Quebec City in the midst of our first polar vortex—the new and trendy scientific term for freezing our butts off. Minus twenty-three celsius...plus windchill. A cold that stings and burns. I'm here for a couple of days, as guest judge on Photo Life magazine's annual photo contest; it's my last gig of the year and a huge honour. I don't know it yet—standing there in the lobby of the St-Pierre—but I'm about to have a really great time with Valérie, Jenny and Guy, sifting through thousands of reader images, telling stories and catching up. A gift at the tail end of this long year.
I haven't read through my 2016 posts (and I'm not about to) but I have a feeling that if I did, I'd find much darker thoughts than years past. I know I'm certainly tired in ways I've rarely experienced before. But I'm back home now, on a quiet morning, a few days away from a postcard perfect Christmas, all white and glistening and wintery. I still have this stubborn, sinking feeling lurking in the pit of my stomach but I refuse to let it take hold. I look at the opportunities I've been given, this recognition I still have trouble understanding, the people around me—family, friends, clients, photographers I've met and shared with along the way...and I'm astonished. Astonished and grateful. Through the insanity, the ups and downs and vagaries of life, all of this—all of you—have been my rudder, steadying the ship through the storms. As I wind down, close another chapter and prepare for a brand new year, I really want you all to know how thankful I am: everyone I've met, everyone I've worked with, everyone who's reached out one way or another. It has meant a hell of a lot.
"You live a charmed life Mr. La Roque"...Yeah, I do. In spite of the dips and valleys we must all go through, I guess I do.
I wish you all the very, very Best of Holidays. Be safe, hug your loved ones and have fun.
See you in 2017 :)
P.S On the KAGE front, I have to mention that we made it through our self-imposed Year of Publishing, something I'm very proud of. Our december issue—Celebrate—is online now. And to my good friend Derek and his family: courage and much love.