Question from two close friends:
How has your “picture of the day” changed how you look at daily life?
I received this question in a postcard several months ago and have found it difficult to come up with an answer. I began the project with the idea that by taking a “picture of the day” I would become more observant of the world around me, more mindful of my surroundings. It has definitely served that purpose, but only when I remember that I’m supposed to be mindful of being mindful of my surroundings. As the saying goes, “mindfulness is simple, so long as you remember to do it.” But this is only one example of what this project has taught me.
I have also learned to be okay with putting something out there that I don’t necessarily think is my best work. This may not seem like such a good lesson to put into practice, but there is an upside to it. Sometimes, it is more important simply to do the work rather than get hung up on making the work perfect. It will never be perfect. There’s always a better image lurking out there somewhere, a better way to craft a sentence, etc. Perfection can lead to paralysis, and it has done just that in many areas of my life. Too often, I’ve felt that if I could not do something to the highest level, I shouldn’t bother to do it at all. Problem is, to get to the highest level, one has to continue to work, to practice, to put things out into the world that they know could still be better and be okay with that. Some days, I’m really proud of the images I post—— other days, not so much. So what? Being dedicated to a practice is more important to me right now than getting hung up on being my best all the time.
The project has also helped me to learn about working through the inevitable ups and downs of any long-term endeavor. At times, I am excited about taking pictures and eager to share what I have done. At other times I feel uninspired, like the whole endeavor is just one unnecessary task I have added to my day, and think I should just hang it up and focus on all the other things calling for my attention. This feeling always passes. And then it will return again. And pass. And return again. So it goes with all the thoughts and emotions we have in life. There is no need to take any of them too seriously since they will surely be changing sometime in the near future. Life is an exercise in riding the waves of feelings and emotions that are constantly sweeping through us, while trying to keep our heads above the water.
The year of photos is over half way done now. There are still many images to post and lessons to learn. Some of those pictures may be worth remembering, and many will not. I will continue to practice. Perfection cannot be found in the material results of an endeavor; however, in practicing something worthwhile we may find some glimpse of perfection within ourselves.