I Wonder If...

September 22, 2012  •  Leave a Comment

I don't consider myself a runner. I think that's a title earned by months and years of focused determination, consistently getting out there to pound the pavement regardless of weather or terrain. I'm a bit weak in the consistency department. Goal achievement seems to be a runner's requirement. In fact, my husband is working toward his third full marathon. The routine is not for the fainthearted; just observing the thinking involved wears me out!

However, in the interest of full disclosure, my regular walking routine has evolved into a pattern of running. I don't really know why. Maybe because Kevin just earned his running coaching certification I thought I'd be his guinea pig (or ultimate challenge). Or maybe, due to his enthusiasm for the sport, some family members just ran their first 10Ks and I needed to see if their idea of fun matched mine. Or maybe it's because the doctor said I better start doing something to avoid further bone loss. Whatever the reason, I promised myself I wouldn't set formal goals. No pressure, no failure. I'd just apply the "I wonder if" principle for this endeavor.

Each day out I wonder if I can do just a little more than I did the last time. Now, after four weeks or so, I am able to run farther, longer, and stronger than I have ever run. I know I could run a 5K, and a 10K no longer looks impossible. This has taken me completely by surprise and I'm still trying to figure out how it happened. 

Listen to experience

Kevin suggested a pre-run diet change, told me how to breathe, and explained what causes such-and-such an ache and ways to deal with it. He's been there and still works it all out as he strives toward the next goal. I have the advantage of his years of experience.


Early morning is so peaceful, so beautiful. What a wonderful clean slate to try again, one step after another, wondering if there is greater potential in my ability that day than the day before. I realize I'll never know if I don't try, if I don't apply what experience has told me works. I have to make that experience my own.

Run with the real deal

My four-legged fitness trainer has been a faithful companion for almost 12 years now, often dragging me behind on our homeward stretch. Those miniature daschund legs are amazing. But for the last few Fridays, we've gotten to run with Kevin. On this hill he'll explain how to make it to the top (although I'd prefer him to expound on the beauty of the gardens we're passing -- distraction is my favored coping mechanism), and on that descent he'll offer a gentle reminder to keep the effort even. When the remaining distance seems on the other side of possible, he'll paint it as possible. Somehow I make myself believe him, and he's been right every time. Running at his side I become just a little more confident; his words and actions help me understand.

Will I run an official race? I don't know. It would be a thrill, but it's not my passion. What I really want is this same experience with my photography.

Perhaps not setting formal goals is a wuss's way out. However, the freedom, enjoyment, and speed of growth seems greatly enhanced within looser constraints. I realize the "wonder if" principle is fruitless, futile even, unless I'm willing to listen to experience, make that experience my own through independent practice, and have the courage to "run" with the real deal.

So, during the next few weeks while shooting, I wonder if:

  • I can achieve proper exposure more quickly than the time before
  • I can see more shots to take when working a scene than the time before
  • I can recognize how a viewer's eye will track through a photograph I'm about to make more immediately than the time before
  • I can migrate to shooting perspectives that include foreground more naturally than the time before

I wonder.

[First drafted May 2012]


Four month update: I've run with the real deal for a day (her name: Danielle Moir, New York City photographer extraordinaire!) — one of my most rewarding experiences ever. I wonder if I'll say the same for my upcoming 5K.

One year later: Having run my first half marathon in March 2013, I know both endeavors can be motivated by the "I wonder if" principle, but it takes so much more to make it happen.




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