Climbing the mountain

It's deep autumn on the west coast now. The last of the leaves have fallen. The days are short and often rainy and cold. But last Friday the sun peeked out. So my friend Nick and I drove to nearby forested Mt Douglas Park for a nature shoot. Nope, we weren't cross-bowing for deer (although someone is these days). We had our cameras.

We weren't far up the park road when I started jumping into the bush to shoot this and that. Nick joined in but it was clear from the get-go that Nick was anxious to move on. As I puttered up the road, stopping to shoot every several feet, Nick walked ahead. Finally I shouted "Go on ahead, Nick, I'll meet you farther up the road." Nick seemed relieved and called back "Okay, I want to take some shots from the top." And off up the road he went.

In my usual way, I continued to putter. Over the next hour I made it another 30 metres up the road. Nick was long gone. Eventually, Nick appeared behind me as I was crouched on the roadside, eye pressed to the viewer. I hadn't heard him approach until he spoke. "Found something interesting?" "Oh, hey Nick. Sorry I didn't catch up to you. I'm a bit of a tortoise on these outings. Did you get some good shots?" "'Fraid not, couldn't get the camera to work. The battery is dead." With that, we ambled back down the road and home.

It struck me later that this little slice of life reflects the challenge of making change. Do we take our time and build a safe, wide path or do we forge ahead and get to the summit while daylight permits? Patience, thoroughness and craft or rough out the whole and in-fill later? If you opt for the slow and steady route (incremental change), you may find nuggets along the way but you might be caught out by nightfall before you reach the summit (momentum for change might disappear); if you go the swift and direct route (transformational change), you stand a good chance of reaching the summit (achieving the vision), but in your haste, you may have let unseen opportunities slip by. Or what if, like Nick, what you find at the top (your vision) doesn't work for you after all?

Of course, there is no right answer. While I putzed at the bottom, Nick might have captured a stunning landscape shot from the top; while Nick stood at the top, I might have caught an exquisite close-up by the roadside. Yet surely something in between is possible - crafting the path while savouring the journey (renew, reflect, revise and rejoice) and at the same time, staying focused and driving to achieve the vision.

This all seems so familiar. It's just an awful lot like life, isn't it? Every step is part art, part science; part knowledge, part guesswork. Damn exciting if you ask me.