the color is not right

“That’s a wild aster,” Nancy said as we were walking through the small wildlife area close to our house. There were thistles, asters, and other flowers I can’t name.

And so I took a picture. It’s what I do.

Even as I took the picture with my phone, I was dissatisfied. The color wasn’t right. It was too blue, not enough lavender. And the focus isn’t great. And I had to crop it with piknik.

But it was fine with Nancy.

For me, it was a matter of getting it right technically. For her, it was about the focus, not so much technically, but in paying attention.

I have a choice in thinking about this picture. I can obsess about getting it exactly right. I can trade my phone for Andrew’s Canon EOS, which he uses with great precision. I can spend time and money on lenses and reflectors and perfection. And I could put it up on my photrade account to generate at least a little cash.

Or I can acknowledge that this is a less-than-perfect reminder of a delightful afternoon walking through the woods together. Technical perfection is less important than attention, than presence, than relationship.

It would, of course, been possible for me to walk with the better camera. But that would have made it a photowalk, a perfectly acceptable pursuit, except when you are wanting a relationshipwalk.

I think that this takes what Chris was saying about pirates out of the business setting and into the rest of life.

Forget the ship. Don’t preserve the ship. Go after the prize. Take on the far more dangerous-but-rewarding stance of seeking the treasure.

Whatever your focus is, that’s what needs your attention. Whatever is helpful to get there, that’s what needs to not be your focus. One comes at the expense of the other.

No picture is perfect. No relationship is perfect. But for most of us, most of the time, we have to choose which one will we will focus on to make better…and which one will be good enough.

The aster in the picture is probably already long gone. The picture of the aster? The color is not right. But Nancy was right. It looks fine.

Because a perfect picture isn’t the treasure worth pursuing.


2 responses to “the color is not right

  1. Oh, I think you totally misunderstand modern culture! If you’d just spend a few thousand more dollars on equipment, *surely* all the technical details would happen automatically and you could concentrate on the “paying attention.” Right? Please?

    (It’s not always a bad thing, to “misunderstand modern culture”!)

  2. oh, perfect!

    You are absolutely correct about the potential of making it happen automatically.


    what is the cost in attention to get the few thousand more dollars?