What Being Robbed Taught Me

On November 8, 2015 I had all my photography equipment and a bunch of my exploring gear stolen from my truck at the Banff Mountain Film Festival in Banff National Park, AB. Turns out, that day was a blessing in disguise. The following is the story of what happened and what I learned from being robbed.

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MY FACEBOOK POST JUST HOURS AFTER THE THEFT:

daxjustin-facebook-robbery

So just to update everyone – the gear has still not been recovered. I kept an eye on Kijiji and the Banff Center security was notified and I had the RCMP involved. That being said, the thieves could have taken the camera equipment anywhere to sell it, but that is not what this post is about. This post is about how an act of robbery could actually turn out being a blessing in disguise. First of all, I’ve had many people ask me about some of the action associated with my social media postings after the theft. They are as follows:

  • Over 200+ Re-tweets on Twitter (by far the most re-tweets I have ever received. Up to that point, the most re-tweets I had on a single tweet was 52)
  • The most replies on Twitter I have ever had on a single tweet (so many that I had trouble replying to every one of them)
  • 168 Shares on Facebook (also by far the most shares I have ever received on a post)
  • The most comments on Facebook I have ever had on a single post (96+)
  • 660NEWS Radio Calgary interviewed me about the theft incident to raise awareness over radio (article link below)
  • Postmedia Network interviewed me about the incident (article link below)

Press:
Photographer looking to recover stolen camera equipment reaches out on social media (660 News)
Photographer has camera equipment stolen at Banff film fest (Postmedia Network)

 

So, what did I learn from all this?

 

1. Compassion is King. (and always will be)

I hear people say that negative news travels further than positive news. Which may be true in some cases, but compassion can TRANSCEND further into the feelings of people, and that can be way more powerful than a negative story. This is also a two-way street; people had compassion for me and my daughter because our stuff was stolen, but what about the thief? Honestly, after a day or two I gained compassion for whoever broke into my truck and stole everything. Why? Because he or she is in a worse place than I am. Who thinks robbery is cool? People who are desperate, or dumb people. Either way – they cannot bounce back harder or stronger from this… I can.

2. Don’t underestimate the power of your network.

You know, I’ve been on Twitter since 2009, Instagram since 2014, and have been on Facebook forever (but have only taken it seriously since 2014) and I always knew I had an awesome tribe. I love my friends, I love people who comment and interact with my feeds and social media has forever played a HUGE role in my career and personal life. BUT my mind was blown that day and the PURE LOVE I felt from everyone melted my heart – even people I rarely interact with or who I just met shared and offered all kinds of help. Some friends even set up a GoFundMe page and others just reached out and offered me money to help me get some new equipment. I was overwhelmed by the amount of support I felt from my friends, followers, and the community for the coming weeks. I love you all, you have no idea.

3. Things get way, way better.

Seriously, they do. After I posted my outreach post across my social media networks, the love and support from people was overwhelming enough – that night the kind folks at GoPro reached out to me and offered to send me all new GoPro equipment. (photo below) LIKE, WHAT! I also posted the image below on my Facebook which got more ‘Likes” than any other photo I have ever posted. (500+ Likes)

Then the VERY NEXT DAY Instagram made me a Suggested User, becoming a top-choice account as chosen by Instagram, drastically increasing my following on Instagram. Then the next day Canadian Geographic magazine reached out to me to publish one of my photos in their JAN/FEB issue. Then a friend of mine on Twitter who I’ve tweeted back and forth with named Joey Bergeron (@joeybergeron) sent me a note and said that he was willing to send me his Canon 30D DSLR camera plus a couple lenses and everything I’d need to get back on my feet. Like, wow. I got emotional like a roller coaster for all of those days but Joey, my man, you really struck a chord with me. I love you. Furthermore someone at Canon Canada saw my post and I’m now in touch with them. (more to come on that hopefully)

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4. You have a choice when you get robbed: You can pout, or forge forward.

Unfortunately, robbery happens. Sometimes we can avoid it, and sometimes we can’t. I say that this theft was a blessing because at the moment after getting into my truck with my daughter and realizing we had been robbed, I got upset. However, I knew that being robbed was something I could not control. This instance, was out of my control. So I did not allow myself to become clouded with negativity. That day my daughter and I planned on going indoor rock climbing (her first time climbing indoors) after the film festival, and I looked into the back seat and said to her, “Sweetheart, it’s lame that we got robbed. But there is nothing we can do about it right now other than report it. You know, Christmas is coming up and I’m sure if you ask Santa nicely he will bring you a new LeapPad, but this theft is not going to ruin our day or our spirits – we ARE going back inside and we are going rock climbing.” And we did. And it was amazing. So amazing that for those moments while we climbed, we both forgot about the robbery incident. Forge forward, and come back stronger.

5. Life is about being alive, not things.

It always sucks having your stuff stolen, but at the end of the day – it’s just stuff. Stuff that I LOVED DEEPLY, but I am thankful the robbery didn’t happen while my daughter and I were in the car, and that nobody got hurt. It could have been a lot worse in more than one way. I mean, if I would have witnessed the robbery I’d be in jail right now for like, murder. Or like however many broken legs.

6. Don’t underestimate the other guys greed.

Frank Lopez said it best in Scarface…

 

6. Never leave items of deep value alone. (obviously)

Even if your vehicle is locked, even if you have a security system – if you want to keep it, always have it on you, in a locker, or within sight.

 

Have you ever been robbed before or been the victim of a theft? How did you bounce back?

Dax

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The First Time I Explored

On December 26, 2013 I woke up and had a very out-of-body experience that lasted all day. This is the story of how my love for nature and photography found me.

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I used to love sleeping in. I remember being off school on Summer break growing up and always sleeping in. I don’t mean like sleeping in until 10:00am, I mean sleeping in until like 1:00pm. I mean, the Bear is my Spirit Animal and always will be so I attribute my sleeping success to that. I slept in every chance I could get, even throughout University and into my mid-20’s.

Then one day everything changed. Don’t get me wrong, I still love sleep, but the pattern has changed. In fact, there is no pattern. Now that I spend most of my time in the mountains, I find myself sleeping less, and being fine with it. Nature has a certain profoundness to it and I don’t think you need to sleep as much. Waking up early for sunrises and staying up late to watch the stars is something I’d never trade for sleep now.

Throughout the month of December in 2013 I felt my life was a little chaotic. Stressed. You know when you go through a break-up and your mind is all weird and you’re in a funk and you’re not sure what to do with your life? THAT was what I felt that whole month. Then the day after Christmas something changed…

I woke up at 8:00am on December 26th, 2013 and felt compelled to go into the wilderness and get lost. I am not sure what came over me the instant I woke up, but I remember getting dressed up in outdoor gear (that I had since 2009, never worn, and still had the tags attached) and just drove. No sense of direction, no preconceived destination, just left the city towards the woods.

 

For some background, I was always a city boy. I grew up in the city of Calgary and rarely left the city unless I was going snowboarding or on vactations with parents or friends, but even then I paid no attention to the nature around me. Snowboarding in the mountains was the most nature-esque thing I did until that morning. Even when I did go snowboarding, I would just go to the hill, hit a few runs then head to the lodge to “sample by the pint” the local craft beer. Who am I kidding, any beer, all of it. I wasn’t picky. At that time I thought the city was where I was meant to be. Driving fancy cars, wearing distressed Diesel jeans, I was unaware, obeying everything I was told, and working 9-5 whether I liked it or hated it. It was what we’re all taught to do, isn’t it?

I was also terrible with directions prior to that day. If someone said “Let’s go to Bragg Creek (a small settlement about 45 minutes from my home town of Calgary WHERE I LIVED FOR 30 YEARS) I’d be like, “Ok. How do I get there.” That day was cold. It was the middle of Winter and prior to that day I hated Winter, hated being cold. I remember driving out on HWY 40 (which actually takes you to Bragg Creek) and randomly pulled over, got out of my SUV and just started walking into the woods. No idea where I was. Just walked into the woods.

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Then something struck me. It was NATURE; and it was as if it was my first time seeing it. Feeling it. It was surreal. I recall aimlessly walking around, searching for something, or nothing. I didn’t know. It didn’t matter. What I do know is that the sun hit the snow differently that day, the sounds of the trees swaying back and forth in the wind sounded utterly peaceful and serene. I almost cried. I had no idea what I was experiencing. I felt the things surrounding me that were alive.  I had to record and document all of this somehow so I reached for my phone and started taking pictures of everything around me. I heard Instagram was a cool way of documenting images so it was the social media platform I chose to share my photos. I found teepee’s in the woods, Native artifacts, ponds of water with reflections, nature sung to me. Again, it didn’t really feel like I was “deciding” to do any of this, it was all very not-like-me. I did not feel like my old self, and that felt amazing, it’s almost like I felt new. I explored through the morning and into the afternoon along HWY 40 (also known as Cowboy Trail) and remember stopping to phone a couple friends. They were working at the moment and all I could talk about was how INSANE nature was. I was all like “Man, there’s something out here. Not someone, something. I FEEL ALIVE out here, and this is like nothing I’ve ever felt before. Why are we working in confinement for people who don’t respect what we do? There’s more to life than working all day everyday then going out for wine or beer and doing it all over again. There’s more to life. There is meaning. We need to start exploring, we need to get outside more.” I phoned 3 people at that time, and they all had the exact same response; “You’re crazy.”

You know I was never the guy taking photos. In fact, I kind of despised when people would be like “Here’s my phone can you take a picture of us?” Even family. For some reason (still unknown to me) I just did not like taking pictures. As a Creative Director/Designer I was familiar with working on photos and edited photography for magazines and such all the time, but was never the one behind the lens. 

Below is a collage of some of the photos I took from that first day I started exploring. You may think the photos may “suck” in comparison to the photos I take now. But why the hell are you comparing photos anyways? These photos are the roots of where I started and I am proud of that.

daxjustin-first-time-exploring-HWY40

Today, I don’t see myself as a city-boy. I am now a man of Nature, an advocate of everything alive. I don’t wear Diesel jeans, I no longer drink alcohol because I don’t need it – I don’t need to displace reality. I wear outdoor gear all the time, and I’m aware and present ALL THE TIME. I question things, have a mind I can rely on, I make up my own mind. After that first day I began exploring relentlessly. I think I went for a drive to the mountains every day for at least two weeks after that, going a little further every time, and feeling the same sense of thrill that nature exists outside, and within us all. Every day I would post 2-3 more photos on Instagram and found my audience growing. I had no idea what I was doing, I was just posting what I saw and it started evolving into more meaningful moments in the outdoors, which I was openly inviting into my life. And I do still go snowboarding and also started skiing again, but I find myself stopping frequently just to soak in my surroundings. It’s like I can feel the nature around me. But I’m also totally crazy right, so there’s that. And I’ve never been prouder to just be myself. Probably because I have become my True Self and I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.

I’m curious to hear if anyone has ever felt this presence in nature?

Dax

As always, drop me a line and follow my adventures on:
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