Like many people, I have a hobby that allows me to get away from things. My hobby is cycling. Beyond the obvious benefits of exercise and the chance to get outside, it gives me time to think and reflect on whatever has been going on in my life.
As I've shared with some people in the past, I like using my time on the bike to think because it forces me to concentrate. What I mean by this is that I can only think about one thing at a time. I try to stay as safe as possible, and to do so takes some concentration. This concentration takes up a good bit of my brain, so I have found that I can only think about one other thing at any given time. I guess the best way to put it is that I have limited multitasking skills while on two wheels. I like it this way, though. As I ride for an hour or two I can focus on one thing at a time and get some insight that I normally don't while reading, watching television, or even talking about whatever issue it is with someone else. It is very much my meditation time.
Unfortunately I have been a little lazy the past few months. I was going to say weeks, but I decided today that I was going to stop lying to myself, so there. After a two week hiatus I decided it was time to get rolling again. I had been out to shoot in the morning, got coffee, went to the grocery store, all the chores were done; it was be lazy and bored, or ride and think. I was smart and took the latter.
After getting prepared to go out, I hopped on the bike and was on my way. By the time I left my neighborhood the first thought hit me. Today is the 21st of April, I got married eleven years ago today. If you've known me long enough, you know about that. If not, SURPRISE! (Spoiler, I'm divorced) This was how my thinking started, going over an eleven year span in a relatively quick period.
I have to be honest, there is a lot about the past eleven years that I don't remember. A lot of that is for good reasons, who really remembers much detail over eleven years. I obviously remember big things, important stuff. I also, full disclosure, drank about four of those years into obscurity, so there's that too. Either way, I quickly scanned through that time and brought myself to this week and the real reason I sat down at the computer tonight.
I found out at the beginning of the week that I was awarded first prize in the Street Photography category of a photography competition. As I have in the past, I posted a little thing on social media so that I can make sure that all those who would want to know can see it. And just like writing the first sentence of this paragraph, it was hard. I started to worry about things that aren't issues, like if the competition was legitimate? Does this look like boasting? Am I being too proud? Needless to say, and I'm being very open here, I do have some paranoia issues.
The biggest thing that came to mind was that I knew I'd start getting congratulations. I'm horrible with congratulations! Even if I think that I'm deserving of them, and I rarely do, I still don't know how to handle them. I will admit that I think I've gotten better, but I still catch myself, usually after the fact, talking down whatever the accomplishment is.
This is where my mind landed when my thinking finally got to this week. How did I handle a success? Did I do well? Okay? Shitty? My guess was probably all of the above. I had had multiple interactions with people over the week where it had come up, but all of them seemed to mesh together in my mind. They all had me not knowing what to say beyond thank you, then trying to figure out if I should go ahead with my usual downplaying of the situation.
So this was what dominated my thoughts while riding my bike today. Started out with the reminder that I could have been married eleven years, then right into me going over how ungrateful I probably have come across to multiple people this week. This is hardly the glowing endorsement that cycling needs. Cycling is amazing! Just trust me on that and know that if you ever want some advice on how to get into it, I'd be more than happy to point you in the direction of who can tell you if I can't. This, however, is not where this ends, there is a positive! (YAY CYCLING!)
What I realized today was that I did something cool. I started really putting my work out full force just over a year ago. In that time I've done more than I could have ever imagined I could in that amount of time. I realized today that I don't stop sometimes and step back to take a look. I came home and went online to the site of the competition and did a count. I have no idea how many actual applicants there were this year, they didn't give a number like they did last year, but I beat out 32 nominees from 15 different countries. Sure, maybe that's not that big of a deal to some, but it was pretty cool looking back at it.
So, after looking at all of that and getting my perspective back in line, I want to make a few last points. First of all, I want to say a heartfelt thank you to every single person who gave me a congratulations over the past week. I honestly and truly thank you. Most of you are more support than you actually know. Please also know that if I sounded like I was blowing you off, it was unintentional and a direct result of my own lack of clarity and, at times, confidence. Last of all, don't forget to give yourself the time to reflect every once in a while. It may not solve things completely, but you may be able to answer some small questions that will help the bigger picture.