WHAT REALLY MATTERS
For as long I can remember, I’ve yearned to be an artist, never a professor; yet, here I am, teaching science at the university at my mundane day job.
It’s not that I didn’t have passion for the cerebral. For one, I was always obsessed with the wonders of the universe.
Like Carl Sagan. And aliens! Not the abducting kind, but the kind that could be lurking below Jupiter’s icy moon Europa, or behind the haze of Saturn’s veiled moon Titan. So right after my Ph.D. in chemistry and some healthy dose of postdoctoral work at the University of Colorado at Boulder, I ended up as a senior research scientist at the University of Arizona.
There, I served as consultant with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab, planning future space missions on the heels of the wild Cassini spacecraft. It sure felt like I was in hot pursuit of those Little Green Men.
Yet, right about then, I was bit by a pesky travel bug and realized I was missing out on a piece of real exploration. No matter how much I try, I’d never be able to see the red supergiant star Betelgeuse with my own eyes. Heck, even a quick trip to the Red Planet isn’t happening anytime soon.
With some reluctance, I figured my next best travel getaway would have to be within the gravity well of this piece of rock circling the Sun. Visiting 195 countries suddenly seemed like a better prospect than to hitchhike 195 light years on a trip to nothingness!
CHASING THE SIXTH GREAT EXTINCTION
Sometime around the winter of 2010, I planned to set up my own travel team, which I then called Eye of Octopus, and the name stuck for a while. The star travelers were members of my own family: spouse, and three young daughters, between the ages of 1 and 12. Although there were times when I had to travel alone, most journeys were made with the five of us.
...And so began my odyssey, and I haven’t looked back since.
Just in the last decade, I’ve crisscrossed the globe seventy-two times, traveling to forty-eight countries across six continents, viewing the planet from the perspectives of an artist, a photographer, a scientist, and of course, a conservationist.
I finally met up with the aliens, but who would’ve thought they were all cohabitants of this planet? Yet, as progress crushes out these unique life forms – animals, plants, and yes, human races too – many would forever remain unknowable to us. That realization catapulted my career in art to become the celebration of life everywhere. That is, everywhere we know of: from the mighty blue whale to the ‘lowly’ dung beetle, and every species in between.
So, welcome to my journey, and I’m glad you stopped by.
If you’ve come across this far, know that just by patiently reading through, you’ve made a difference in the lives of these strange and weird creatures you see around you.
And did I mention I donate a chunk of any sales to a list of nonprofit charities for conservation of your choice? Like, you know, the World Wildlife Fund, that always likes to show off its panda!