Draining the swamp

Some weeks carry a certain level of draining in them, such that by the time the weekend arrives, I am completely spent. This past week was one of those so by the time late afternoon heralded in the final PC work of the day, I was completely done.

So I arrived at that moment where you have your chores finished and have to make that decision “sofa & TV or go out somewhere”. There are moments when we choose TV because the bones are tired and the soft cushions of the sofa are so welcoming.

But last night wasn’t one of those moments. Or, at least, the softness of the cushions couldn’t overpower the need to do something that took care of my soul. The body would just have to wait.

So I took a gamble (looking at the sky and the app) and decided to see if I could catch the sun going down, down at Picnic Island. It takes about an hour to get there and I have made the journey before only to be bitterly disappointed in a cloud-controlled wasted-trip.

But the sky looked promising and I was driven by desire for solace. Something that would soothe the raw fibers of my soul. Desire is a strong mistress and last night I was her slave.

As I pulled in to Picnic Island, I opted for the boat launch and fishing pier section. There were lots of people there, but that was OK. On this occasion I had decided that people would be an important ingredient in my shoot.

When the people are with you, sunset always presents a real challenge because you are trying to get enough light on them while still getting the colors in the sky behind. In this instance, though, people were merely a prop and a silhouette prop at that. So their identities were unimportant.

I brought two lenses, the 11 mm super-wide angle and the 300 mm zoom, as well as a tripod to rest the camera on. And the biggest challenge of the evening was occasionally switching lenses (without dropping) so that I could move from super-distant to super-close. I have to admit, it was a pain and I need to come up with a better answer that doing it with a weak break-recovering wrist on one side and a freshly cut and throbbing index finger on the right. I was a mess.

But the good news is I fumbled but didn’t drop. Given how much the lenses and camera cost, that could have been disastrous.

In any event, I have added a number of images to the end of the blog and they are in the order taken, so you will see the progression of color-change that was happening. Each time I switch from wide to zoom, the background color obviously changes dramatically, because i am only seeing a tiny portion of the sky behind the people.

Scenery wise, I prefer the wide shots because the open blue sky is so impressive. However the people actions (the person struggling with his leashed dog, the woman with her braids flying through the air, the guy casting his bait-net, and catching (and keeping) the embarrassingly small fish … they are all courtesy of the zoom at a distance of about 100 yards.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy.

Driving home, I definitely felt like my soul had been somewhat replenished by the experience and there was much more of a pep in my step than there had been at any other time in the week.

And it made me think about the whole aspect of draining and replenishing and how we submit ourselves to this cycle as if it is just life.

While much of life is outside our control and I acknowledge that, we need to make ourselves aware of the parts of it that are draining to us. Work, health, personal life, … these are all primary drains on us and yet significant parts of these are within our control.

We don’t all get to work at what we are passionate about, but if we can, then work become much less of a drain on us. And if we can’t make a career at whatever our passions are, then it is very important that they find some other outlet within us. Perhaps a part-time activity or even a committed hobby/interest.

Health is to a large extend beyond our control, and we all go through periods where it beats the shit out of us. But living healthy (eating and exercise) can mitigate the damage that health causes and so we need to make sure that we are at least giving ourselves a chance for it to be less of a drain.

Personal life is likely the one area we have most control over and yet it is also the area that least control is exercised. We get married, We divorce, We stay single. We choose our own path (and company) to navigate through life and in this respect we are very much captain of our own ship.

Some people hand the captaincy over to someone else and they leave all decisions up to that person. But at the end of the day, they still go down with their own ship.

The decisions that are made throughout our lives either reward us or take from us. And if someone else is making the decisions for us, then it becomes almost impossible to avoid those that drain.

It’s funny how many folks, after they finally give up on a relationship or a job that they were stuck in, bemoan the wasted time. I should have left ten years ago” is a phrase that plays out again and again.

Did they actively decide to stay in that situation or did they just let it slide because it was easier or less confrontational? Chances are, they didn’t decide anything and even at the end, the decision was probably made for them. She walks out and leaves a note, or the boss tells you they are restructuring and your position is no longer viable.

It is at moments like these we realize how much of a swamp our life has become. We are stuck in so many aspects that are not what we intended. We sink further as each day passes and we hope that somehow someone will come along and throw us a rope and pull us out.

The longer we live in the swamp, the more draining it becomes, sapping life’s energy from our every waking moment.

So I guess what I am trying to say is that instead of waiting on this unidentified someone to come along and give us a lifeline, we need to understand the swamp. Understand the pieces that are sucking us in and then make our own decisions about clawing our way out.

Taking control of our life (as much as we can) and making decisions that affect it in a positive manner … even if it is as subtle a decision as “no sofa tonight”. They don’t all have to be earth shattering decisions. They only need to help us live. It’s your life; live it.

… just a thought.