Friday, June 5, 2015

Obstacles - A Lesson in Not Being a Zax

Obstacles are, at best, not fun and, at worst, detrimental to our progress. I’m reminded of the classic Dr. Seuss book “The Zax”. In short, there was a North going Zax and a South going Zax and it just so happened that in the Prairie of Prax they met on the same path and came to a standstill. So, after years of traveling in their respective directions they met with an obstacle and suddenly the Zax' were without trax in the Prairie of Prax.

What did they do, you ask? Nothing. They did absolutely nothing to conquer the obstacle in front of them.  They refused to budge from the path on which they wanted to go and they went NO-where, for years and years and yes, you guessed it, years.  They stood still for so long that an entire Metropolis was built around them and the highway was bridged right over top of their heads.

So, what does this story teach us? Well, in my mind, there are two different lessons to be learned; one from our stubborn title characters and one from the Metropolis and highway builders.  The Zax teach us that if we do nothing about the obstacle in our path, be it because of stubborn pride, fear or whatever reason we might conjure up to justify our motionless approach, then we will not progress in our journey. The builders however, teach us that when we encounter an obstacle in our path and we find a way around, over or under it, we will be amazed at what we can accomplish in our travels.

Now, while I am a country girl and do not advocate for the building of Metropolis’ and highways as a rule, I do see the genius in that aspect of the story. As a photographer of nature, I encounter obstacles in my efforts to capture the exact capture I am seeking. Everything from the tyme of day to the weather of the day, the height of the object I’m after and the briar patch in front of it can add frustrating obstacles to my process.

One rainy, Spring day – rainy days tend to, as a rule, be great obstacles for a nature photographer – I was working in my office, which is a self-standing structure near my home, and decided I needed a break. I walked up the path to the front porch which is closed in by lattice on the far end.  Now, one thing I do like about rainy days is seeing raindrops on flowers. Well has it happened, the roses on the other side of the porch’s lattice were in beautiful bloom and yes, delightfully decorated by raindrops…and yes, I did sing a bit of that song from The Sound of Music.

Naturally, I got my camera and went down into the yard to take pictures of the roses.

        Insert obstacles here –

No matter what I did I just couldn’t seem to capture the essence I was after. Finally, I decided to settle for the shots I had and went back up to the porch to go inside and get a glass of sweet tea. As I opened the door to go in, I took one more look at the roses through the lattice and that’s when I saw it; the shot I was after.  Excited, I got my camera back out and went to get the capture.

        Insert obstacles here –

No matter what I did or how I contorted my body or attempted to manipulate my lens, I simply could not get the angle I needed on the shot.  Frustrated, I took a few more pictures and then, begrudgingly, gave up on the idea.

So, how is this a lesson in overcoming obstacles, when clearly I didn’t?  Well, that came later when I looked at my pictures and saw something I didn’t expect. In frustration, I took some pictures of the roses and included the main obstacle in my path; the lattice. As it happened, that which I deemed a formidable foe turned out to be a unique aspect that gave my picture more depth in both view and meaning.

In the long run, I started out as a Zax, refusing to budge from the view I wanted, but eventually I built a Metropolis as I looked at the picture that God gave me and realized that He allows obstacles in the path of life to frame the beauty of life and that sometymes the best way to overcome an obstacle is to include it in the journey.