Existential Psychology

Seize The Opportunity

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I’m reading a great book on photography called ‘Mountain Light’ by one of the most revered nature photographers, Galen Rowell, whose philosophical musings on the subject are worth much more than any technical explanation. An idea that stands out is when he urges the reader to take advantage of a good shot when it’s there, to not hold off with the expectation that something better will probably come along down the trail. He says that he can’t even count how many photos never materialized simply because he was too lazy to pull his camera out of his backpack.

Obviously it’s great advice for the burgeoning photographer but his insight can be applied to other spheres of life too. My experience of turning psychological ideas into articles has been identical. So many thoughts that could have become something substantial now lie in the graveyard, unfulfilled promises that I didn’t take advantage of, either because I wasn’t sure if they were good enough or simply because I was too lazy to take a moment to scribble them down.

These days I try not to discriminate as long as an idea meets a minimum threshold, which is simply that it’s interesting to me. Frankly some of the things I’ve written that didn’t seem like they had much promise are my favorites now and have been enormously helpful as I continue to clarify and expand my thought.

If you spend your life in neutral, waiting for the perfect moment before you activate, that moment might never come. Sticking with the photography metaphor, what seems like just a good shot might turn out to be an excellent shot. You just don’t know until you get those negatives developed.

Every action we take, however certain it may seem at the outset, is a leap of faith into the unknown. It makes sense to want to hedge your bets and wait for the most perfect opportunity possible, but this mentality will leave countless nourishing experiences by the wayside. Much better to take Rowell’s advice to heart and seize the opportunity, pulling that camera out of the bag when the shot is there.