Have you ever hiked a mountain? Have you ever gone on one of those nature walks through a rainforest that leads to a waterfall, or some other spectacular view at the end? Have you ever become so focussed on getting to that view, that you fail to see all the wondrous things you are passing on the way?
We have become such a goal orientated society. The marks of success… the money… the things… are being constantly rammed down our throats daily through the media and advertising. It’s almost impossible to feel good about yourself until you measure up to some mythical standard perpetuated by modern culture.
The other day whilst walking through a magnificent rainforest close to my home… my mind set on achieving the goal of photographing a waterfall (which I never did end up finding)… I found myself having a kind of miserable time. It was hot. All my camera gear was heavy. I was aware that I didn’t have a lot of time before I would have to head back home. The pressure was on. Having the overwhelming feeling that I had made a wrong turn and was heading in the complete opposite direction from where I was intending to arrive, didn’t do much to help the situation either.
I took a breath.
I took a drink of water.
And I realised where I was.
Surrounded by nature and breathtaking beauty. Tiny birds constantly crossing my path, seranading me with their song. Ferns and palms and giant ancient eucalypts, in every shade of green. A babbling brook that meandered alongside the pathway to keep me company. Tiny creatures who made the forest floor their home, and dancing butterflies like faeries from my childhood dreams.
I never did make it to the waterfall. But I saw some of the most colourful and beautiful birds I have ever seen. I spent some time with kangaroo’s and rock wallabies, watching them feed and tend their young. I breathed the cleanest air imaginable… and I reconnected with why I take nature photographs in the first place.
It’s not about the final product. It’s not about landing the perfect shot (although that sure is nice). It’s about the experience. And then it’s about sharing that experience with those who may never have that chance for themselves. It’s about stopping halfway up the metaphorical mountain side and taking some time to admire the views. See how far you have come. Enjoy what surrounds you right here, right now. Maybe you will make it to the top of your career mountain.. maybe you never will. But despite what society might have you believe… it doesn’t matter either way. Enjoy the ride. Enjoy the view along the way.