The other day I was running. Actually I was trying not to stop and walk as I struggled to push my 3-year-old up a rather steep and long hill. “Don’t look up” was my mantra. Except a thought kept creepin’ in my head. One that wished I didn’t have to push a stroller while I ran. How freeing it would feel!
That second thought sort of hung on as I crested the hill. But not because expletives were exploding in my head because I had to push a stroller on my runs.
Well, maybe it was a little, but I began to think about this past summer. I don’t have a double running stroller, only a single, so I couldn’t run much at all because I have an amazing, adorable husband with a crazy work schedule and two little girls equally amazing and adorable. So, I squeezed in runs when I could. Today, I am closer to bliss. At least I can run. I should be content with that, right?
See that? Yep, the grass is always greener isn’t it. But this isn’t a post about the grass being greener. Instead it’s about balance.
While running with the stroller I wanted something better. I could creatively make the situation better, or I could contentedly push my child in the stroller while running.
In life we always have these choices, and at times there is no choice and so we have no control over the situation. Like my summer running. In that situation I had no control. In others where I know I might be able to squeeze in a run then yes, there is some control but at a cost.
As I crested that hill I began to think about this summer and told myself I should be grateful (this is what a gratitude journal does to you) for the time I do have to run, even if I have to push around almost 40 or 50 pounds. I’m running. And that made me happy. You see, running does make me happy even though the process isn’t super fun.
The point is, I found contentment in where I was. I realized it was ok for me to push my daughter while I ran because it could be worse, I could not be running. Then I began to think of what else I liked about it. Like, she talks to me while I run, and I have a place for my keys and phone (and a cup of coffee). I could go on but I think you get the point. I fell into a place of contentment and it’s all ok. I’m good with it.
Our art, our photography, our work, our craft can be in a similar state. Something out of our control causes us to be in a certain place with it. We may not like it, but it could be worse. Then the decision rests with whether we remain content with it or fight it. It is not my natural state to accept contentment, but I’m allowing myself to feel it more. Not everything needs to be a battle.
For example, I saw a post about a woman who viewed herself as a middle of the road photographer, and she was perfectly fine with that. She didn’t mind being there. She didn’t want to strive to be on top, to take workshops, to push herself creatively. She only wanted to create photos that she loved and accepted the fact that her photos were average.
That is not my nature. But there is something calming to it. To be grateful for where you are. To notice the journey you’ve taken so far, stop, look around and say I like where I’m at and be grateful for it all. There is something not only calming but also beautiful in it.
My nature instead is to strive for achievement, to try for better, and keep pushing myself in many ways. I don’t stop to reflect, look around, or even appreciate where I’m at. At least I never did before. Don’t get me wrong, I think striving for better is good. It is how we move forward. We make mistakes, we have outcomes, we learn from it all and move forward to the greener grass. That shouldn’t be bad and I don’t believe it is. But I do believe in balance. Where we learn to appreciate where we are at and how we got there while also looking ahead.
I recently read an article where a woman explained her idea of how to not hate running. The article frustrated me because everything she said would cause someone to not improve and isn’t improvement the point? Wouldn’t you like running more if you improved? 6 months after reading that article I realize her point was not improvement. It was not an article on getting better at running. It was an article written for those people who didn’t want to get better at it, but only wanted to like it.
These last few months I’ve slowed down a bit, looked a little more and appreciated where I’m at. And it might not be the best, but I like it. I mean, really like it. I know things can be better, that’s always going to be there. But I also like where I am, what I’ve done to get here (and what others have done to get me here), and am grateful for it all. So, for now I’ll search for balance between striving and contentedness.
This is one of those articles not to make us better at photography or art, but instead to like our craft. It is a process, no matter where you are in that process appreciate the here and now for what it is.