The Long View
I first got on the blogging bandwagon back when it was a new thing. People still referred to them as web logs at the time. With a quick rearward glance, that feels like only a few years ago. But when I stop to really think about it, that was in 2004... More than thirteen years ago! It's amazing to me to think about the time that has elapsed. And as that time has passed, the content behind the blogs I wrote shifted and evolved based on my own growth, my evolving interests, and my place in life. What began as The Daily Grind meandered its way through my first creative writing blog I called 196bpm. The work presented in 196bpm began to morph again sometime around 2010 into Words & Colors when I first began publishing photographs alongside my writing. Eventually, all of that gave way to my more singular focus on photography, and the projects presented here as Cherry Fivers.
Throughout all of these chapters of blogging, one thing that had been remarkably consistent was my enjoyment for writing on New Year’s Day. It first began as a way for me to solidify and publicize my athletic goals on The Daily Grind - the process of doing so felt like adding a layer of accountability that would perpetually help fuel my motivation throughout the year. I found by declaring my goals early and often, failure to deliver on them became harder and harder. Later on, my New Year’s Day posts became more about general life goals and resolutions. I suppose it was because I was growing as an adult (and, by that time, a parent). But by the time I created Cherry Fivers, I fell away from writing regularly, and in fact, haven’t written on New Year’s Day in quite some time.
So, now, here we are. It's January 1, 2018, and it’s six o’clock in the morning. Even though I stayed up late enough to watch the ball drop last night, I couldn’t fall back to sleep this morning when I first woke up. Instead, I decided to crawl out from under the sheets and park myself at the kitchen table with a cup of black coffee and this keyboard. It’s absolutely frigid outside - in the negative numbers - and all I hear is the hum of the furnace beneath me while the cold, blue light pours into the room. Despite the challenge of getting out from a warm bed, this is actually my favorite time of the day. I often feel like I’m the only one in the world that is awake.
In my last post, I wrote about one of the photography goals I had set for myself in 2017. It revolved around my aim for developing a specific (and consistent) visual style with my work. In that blog post, I mentioned I wasn’t entirely satisfied with the results... that I was mostly pleased with the progress I had made, but didn’t feel like I fully accomplished that goal. Ironically, shortly after that post, my Instagram #2017bestnine came in and I was stunned! Nine images from my Instagram feed randomly oriented themselves in a 3x3 grid based on the number of likes they received throughout the year, and I immediately thought: they have such a perfectly consistent style! Intrigued, I began paging through my own Instagram grid (something I never do) and saw for the first time just how consistent the tones, shadows, and framing were in all of the photos that I shared this year. Reflecting on my 2017 work in that way, I began to feel that I did in fact accomplish the goal I set for myself. I just wasn't able to see it initially.
Maybe it’s clichéd. Maybe it’s just common knowledge. But from the most unexpected of places - from my Instagram feed - came a monumental reminder that sometimes it’s hard to see progress without zooming out far enough. I had been evaluating my pictures on a mostly photo-by-photo and day-by-day basis, but by looking at them nine at a time, next to one another in a continuous, year-long stream, I could actually see I accomplished what I set out to do. And therein lies the crux of what I wanted to write about today. A topic that hearkens back to my earliest days of blogging: the long view. The idea that it may feel as though we’re not making any progress, but in actuality, we are. It may be slower, and the steps in between may be smaller than we’d like, but things are changing. Things are improving. Progress is being made. Because the spirit behind this post really isn’t about my photo collection. It’s about the way things have been going for all of us. So here’s to 2018. Here's to the steady progression toward all of our goals, our hopes, and our dreams. Here's to the long view.