But first, let me explain that I don’t really bowl. Once a year I join other local Lions for the District 1-J Bowling event. In my case, that entails launching a heavy cylindrical object down a narrow alley, with the intent of knocking down a set of ten oddly-shaped wooden things called ‘pins.’ On either side of the alley are two gutters. Unfortunately, my bowling ball spent more time in the gutters than it did impacting the bowling pins. As much as my brain says to throw the ball straight down the alley, I end up throwing across my body with the unhappy result of the ball heading for the gutter on the left hand side. When I try to compensate, the ball ends up in the gutter on the right hand side.
And so it went for the first two games - at one point, I may have set a record of six gutter balls in a row. Then I took a trip to the other end of the bowling alley, where they had the vision-impaired bowling set up. They put rails to hold onto and to guide your approach; and they put bumpers up on either side of the alley, taking the place of the gutters.
A friendly lady offered me the choice of either blind-fold or heavy vision-distorting glasses. I chose the glasses. Then she took my arm and guided me over to the bowling balls. I chose the most colorful one, a task that proved easier than finding the finger holes. Then she put my hand on the railing and left me on my own. I looked down towards the pins. I could see the light wood color of the floor, and at the end of the alley some white linear shapes that I assumed were the pins. Instead of trying to be so perfect, worrying about form, finding the little arrows on the floor and such, I just aimed the ball as straight as I could towards the white shapes that were about 60 feet away. No pressure, just relax, and let it go. The bumpers would protect me. And others.
To my surprise and delight, I ended up with a spare - much better results than when I could actually see what I was doing. Even better, once we returned to our normal lane, with normal bowling conditions, and without the vision-distorting glasses, my third game was much improved. One theory says I just got better with practice. Another theory says that I needed a break. A third theory says that the vision-impaired bowling results gave me the confidence that I could do it. Whatever the reason, with a little coaching from some Lions who really know how to bowl, and my new-found confidence, I ended up with a strike and a spare or two, and a much higher score than the first two games. Yes, I still fell back into the gutter a couple of times, but nowhere near the extent as the earlier games.
So, what does this have to do with photography? I think that sometimes we just need to step back, stop trying so hard to be perfect, and enjoy the moment. Try something new. Look at things with a different set of eyes. Get out of your comfort zone and just see what happens. You might be pleasantly surprised.
I would love to hear about your eye-opening experiences, either in the new year or years gone by.