Monday, June 29, 2009

Just Under the Wire

(Click on the thumbnail for the bigger, better version)

I feel old and tired today—both in mind and spirit. After about four days of focusing almost exclusively on my SoFoBoMo book, I finished yesterday. Completing the book left me relieved, let down, lost, confused, discouraged, dissatisfied, inspired, proud—I need not go on. Yes, overall the enjoyment of the process overrides the negatives. Yet, this was once again an intense exercise during which I learned a great number of lessons. Clearly, some of those lessons will invigorate and inform my photography in the future and I am grateful for them. Nevertheless, I was regularly reminded of my weaknesses and limitations (spiritual, physical, and mental).

I will confess that near the end, I was tempted to ditch the project. As I became increasingly aware of how little progress I have made as a photographer in the past year, the entire exercise seemed more futile. Ultimately, I knew that I was in no mental state to judge merit and had no business making a decision that I would likely regret. So, I persisted.

I suspect that if the book project were the only thing on my mind today, I would be experiencing mostly relief. Certainly, I would also feel pride in just finishing and a new burning desire to be a better artist by this time next year. After all, there is nothing quite like the pressure of collecting and presenting thirty-five photographs to the world to motivate one to dig in. If an exercise like this one doesn’t push you to improve your craft, I don’t know what would.

My general sense of relief, however, is moderated by other events. Yes, regardless of how single-minded I was, life did go on outside that narrow space in our office where I lived for those last few days. My sister’s recovery is going well, and that is welcome news. Still, her life will dramatically change. As a recent widow, she now lives alone and she is feeling a new kind of vulnerability. Along with her children, she will be facing life-changing decisions. She is my little sister, and I am concerned about her.

All that would have been more than enough for me, today. However, The Husband got home late yesterday, found me still chained to my computer in the final stretch, and discovered that our cockatiel had died at some point during the afternoon. Certainly, the bond I had with Lady Bird was not as intense as those I have had with more than one dog and with my horse. Still, she had been with us for about eight years, and I will sorely miss her singing—even her fussing when she saw a hawk and was certain that she was certain to be eaten. Her loss leaves me with one more bruise on my heart, and I have noticed that as I grow older these bruises leave me feeling increasingly fragile.

All in all, I am a bit of a mess. Nothing serious—no one is more aware of that than I. All I need to do is return to counting my blessings to remind myself that I am rich beyond compare in all the things that matter in life. My policy at times such as this is to simply proceed one thing at a time—take care of business, don’t fight the feelings, but don’t give in to paralysis. Therefore, after a couple more reviews of my project to see what gremlins may have crept in overnight, I will post my book at the SoFoBoMo site. I have come in just under the wire. Today is the 31st day.


  1. Good for you for finishing. And I find strength in your willingness to share what you perceive as shortcomings. Thank you for that, Anita--sometimes, when I'm writing about my own journey, I am wondering why I am writing it down...but I believe the only way to move through it is to, well, move through it. Writing it down helps. Can't wait to take a look at your book.

    I am sorry to hear about your cockatiel, and hope your sister fairs well on this new leg of her own life.

    Mary Ann

  2. Life, it seems, throws a never ending stream of challenges our way. Keep your head up! With all of the stuff going on, it's amazing that you even finished your project, but you did. Just get rid of the judgment part, about not being better than last year. My favorite quote of the past week: "All suffering comes from comparison.". Think about it.

    Anyway, a heartfelt congratulations from me to you! BTW, I am working on a book. It won't be finished by today, but perhaps sometime next week. I was quite inspired to do it when I went back to Akron, OH this past weekend, but that's all that I'll tell you! ;-) You were a big inspiration for me to tell my story, or at least part of it.

  3. Mary Ann - Thank you for your kind thoughts. As for dumping my feelings, I have discovered that I find great solace when others periodically share their struggles with emotions; thus, it seems only fair to be honest about my doubts and fears. I like the way you phrase the solution "the only way to move through it is to, well, move through it."

  4. Paul - While I continue to grow less susceptible to comparing my photography with that of others, I do become impatient with my ability to refine my seeing.

    Oh, now you have me eager, eager to see your book. I have to wait until next week?! I am humbled to be included as a portion of the inspiration for pretty much anything you are up to. I can confidently say that based on your body of work.


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