When I was in my early teens, I began playing tennis. My mother and father took private lessons and were fairly good. By the time I was 15, I began beating them regularly. I began taking on others at the tennis club, winning several matches. I was full of confidence and sure I would be a professional tennis player when I was all grown up. I was growing stronger, I had an abundance of endurance, and I was certain no one in the club, other than the pros teaching me, were good enough to defeat me.
My tennis coaches, Doug and Susan taught little Chrissie Evert before she made it to the big time. She went on to be one of the best in the women's tennis. If they were teaching me, I figured I could not be beat. So they entered me into a tournament. I was all of 5'4 and 130lbs. My first opponent was 6'2, 190 lbs., had a monster serve. He destroyed me in straight sets. I was devastated and forced to rethink my future.
Could I ever be the best?
I didn't think so.
"Why play this game if I can't be the best," I said.
"Tennis is a game you can play all your life," said my mother. "Enjoy it, have fun playing, and don't worry about being the best."
My mind works differently though. Anything worth doing is worth doing it to be the best. It took me years to acknowledge my logic was faulty. This black or white mentality has both served me well and quite possibly cut short fantastic opportunities. The past is the past though and all I can do is look towards the future.
Lately I have grown more and more disenchanted with my photographic skills. I am self-taught and although I have been published in more magazines than I can remember, I still yearn to be recognized in photographic circles as a "real photographer."
As a writer and photographer, I barely register a blip on the radar screen. There are times this is difficult for my ego to accept. I want more out of my ability and I want to be recognized for being a skillful artist. I want, I want, I want...Writing and photography are both akin to practicing Zen or martial arts. The more one strives for perfection, the farther away from one gets. Remembering this does nothing to alleviate one's desire to get better. Or in my case, to be the best.
The truth is, unless I am hit with a bolt of lightening from the talent God's above, I will never be the best photographer. My slightly misanthropic mentality tends to shine through in my photos, written words, and video, and I guess that's good enough. If my work is artistic enough to be deemed the work of an artist, that is also good enough. One thing I learned long ago here in Thailand—don't think too much. So I'm going to go back to just having fun.