Unexpected gifts. Many times we may wonder why we do what we do. Lately I have been questioning myself as to my future goals and how long I will continue to teach. Today, I got a reminder. Last year I taught some darkroom classes at a mental health educational facility. They had a very nice little darkroom and I worked with people who were basically out- patients, learning some new skills and having a bit of fun. One young man I worked with was institutalized, heavily medicated and really wasnt working out well in a group setting. His doctor thought perhaps working with one person in a different type of environment might be helpful to his treatment. So he became my student. He was a sweet young man, and we spent about 8 weeks together, twice a week, several hours at a time. He was heavily medicated and his hands shook, so I would load the film for him and he would develop it himself. His interest span was short and so I had to think of a new way to teach him something that might be lasting. So we did paper negatives and solarization, chemical painting and even some photo grams. He could run through a roll of 36 exposures in 5 minutes, and not have much to show, but he loved it. He would talk to me, and with me and his doctor was pleased with his progress. As most things go, things came to an end. Yesterday I received an email from this young man, who has moved, gotten married, has a dog and more importantly for this story, a darkroom. I responded to that message with a message to keep taking those pictures and have fun. Today I got a reply .yeah its fun! i will continue 2 take pictures even if it kills me. Do I think that those 8 weeks were a cure, no, but it certainly gave him something. A great reminder of how much joy photography brings to so many and how much I receive from teaching.