Shortly after our last issue came out, my friend Mike Faulkner sent me a message saying how much he enjoyed my last publisher’s note, which outlined six ways of becoming the best version of ourselves. He suggested that I had left out number seven: find your passion and live it!
Mike is more than a little right on this because nothing could be more miserable than living a boring, uninspired life doing something you don’t enjoy. I spent some time thinking about that in relationship to my life and came to an interesting conclusion. I thought about some of the people I admire and considered why I admire them. Sure enough, in each case they exhibited a passion for their major pursuits in life. Two of them in particular have played large roles in recent issues of Cityview.
As many of you know, I am an avid photographer and have found my camera to be the key to unlock many a door behind which I discover an interesting story. As I take photographs for our “Best of the Best” issue, I get the opportunity to both visit with old friends and make new ones. But what is really interesting is when I learn something new about someone I know well. As I stood with my good friend Robert Tino in his gallery, discussing where we would shoot him for our “Best of” editorial coverage, I noticed that his style seems to have evolved. I suggested we head to his studio and work out a shot of him in front of a painting on the easel. Sure enough, he picked up a landscape, the kind of painting he is known for, and carried it over. But my eye was drawn to a painting of Jesus, done in a style I had not previously associated with his work. When I asked about the story behind the painting, Robert said “I finger painted that in a church behind the preacher as he spoke. I had only 20 minutes to work, and to entertain the congregation I chose to paint it upside down, using only my fingers.” That meeting spawned the idea for the cover of this issue, which features a painting Robert created in our studio over the course of several hours.
We don’t always share behind-the-scenes information, but in the following case, we need to set the record straight. When I learned that Phillip Fulmer had been hired by the University of Tennessee this past summer, I was elated. Our university needs all the talent it can get, and Phillip is one of the true leaders in our community. I immediately reached out and requested an interview to explore this new chapter of Phillip’s life. We wanted to bring you his story unfiltered, and I personally wanted to know exactly what he wanted out of the next phase of his life. We excitedly planned our interview and cover shoot. Everything was right on track, and then came an unexpected call from Phillip. “Nathan,” he said, “I may have gotten excited and jumped the gun, and I want to be sure what your intentions are and to make clear my position. What exactly are you wanting to interview me about?” I explained our interest was in what was next—what new and exciting things would we see. “Great,” he said, “because I do not want to be put in a position where I would be asked to stand in judgement of the athletic department or the coaching staff. They are all working hard, doing their best, and it would be disrespectful for me to do anything but support them.”
I point this out, on the record, because his words fit precisely the man I have come to know through the years. He is honorable, passionate, proactive, and empathetic—these are just of few of the qualities I have personally observed. Phillip is a leader who visualizes the outcome he wants, then communicates how to achieve it to those he is leading. We saw that in every season he led our football team. I wanted to share this because of some of the nonsense that has been tweeted and talked about regarding recent changes in the athletic department at UT. I believe that Phillip Fulmer is an outstanding man and public figure—his behavior both on and off the record are clear examples of that.
Passion and admirable qualities go hand in hand.