A Passion Induces a Lesson: Patience & Persistence
Bird photography births both joys and nightmares. Case in point: the Smew Duck, or as I dub him, Baseball Dude. This monochromatic masterpiece demands capture, to share his visually delicious eye candy with others. Oh but LawdHaMercy! The picture you now see took literal YEARS to create.
The problem? Study that head! The camera either burnt out the white features, killing any hint of detail, or it converted the black eye area into one indiscernible sunnuvaWitch blob. But I’m grateful. Because of Lil SmewZee, I learned a host of photography nuances … not to mention the ultimate blessings flowing from patience and its twin, persistence.
First, I developed an intense awareness of the games weather can play. Taking bird shots on a bright sunny day begs for burnt out feathers. Conversely, a super cloudy day smiles at feathery details as well as pimp-style coloring. Result: I learned to restrict my dedicated photo shoot ventures to cloudy days. Yes, I still hit local parks, rain or shine. Otherwise, I start with the weather and plan longer trips accordingly.
Second, I explored every feature of my trusty Nikon p900. Long enamored with its 83x optical zoom—bringing birds waaaaaaaaay over there, to here—I paid little attention to other powerhouse features. The Smew coerced my study of those technological wonders. I now know how to make that BadBoy camera sing—MY tune—on command.
Haunted by Failures
I first encountered Baseball Dude in early 2013, at the Sylvan Heights Bird Park here in North Carolina. At the time, I visited that park about twice a month. Time and again, I’d take a shot. Time and again, the image shot my posting intentions … and ego. Then I saw SmewZee in different environments, including the National Aviary in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and here at home—courtesy of Durham’s Duke Gardens. More snap attempts. More sorry results.
ReFraming my Mindset
Irritated to the Nth degree, my litigator mentality jumped to the forefront: oh I WILL pull this off. Just gotta figure out the how. 🤔 The kid within converted the whole deal into a game → yeah, you gonna win battles, Dude, but SherlockReena here gonna win the war!
2015, at long last, gifted my reward for persistence. I got da sucka in my lens, snapped, AND retained the craved details. I performed everything from James Brown screeches to a football player’s wiggly-knees dance in the end zone. Yo, no shame in my game, y’all! 😂
So it all comes down to this. Few goals permit rapid-fire achievement. By definition, you’re trying something new. Your chosen path may require hitting the books. It may cause your fall to the canvas, a few times. Much more likely than not, chasing the goal will force you to tame two inner demons: impatience with self, and the sultry siren song enticing you to quit. I learned to reframe my failures, from <expletive deleted> screwed it again, fool! to oh yeah, runnin’ outta ways to screw the pooch, kiddo. Translation: each failure brings me closer to success, since I’m absorbing what will NOT work.
Mr. Baseball Dude hammered appreciation for patience in action, a blatant refusal to quit, and a core commitment overwhelming all else. My 90 minute trips to Sylvan evolved into prolonged Imma git u, sucka; watch me! mantras, a mindset paying handsome lingering dividends elsewhere.
My purpose in sharing this → in this instance, I used
- a passion-infused hobby to muscle my self-discipline;
- my warped sense of humor to fortify persistence; and,
- an arrogant ain’t gonna beat me forever mindset to stay on speaking terms with my immediate goal.
Transforming an abstract you CAN do it bald pronouncement into a sit-on-my-shoulder-as-I-struggle peek into one real-life implementation, better solidifies the message conveyed.