I haven’t thought much about surpassing expectations. For one, I’m settled in my ways and confident in my abilities; i.e., I don’t have to prove anything to anyone—and that’s nice. Still, I am surprised when I surpass expectations which may mean that my confidence excels at masking the potential for failure. I’m not going to pay anyone to tell me what this all means, but I will write about it.
The other day I was hiking with friends in the Tahoe National Forest at the 6,000-foot level. Our destination was five alpine lakes. Along the way I noticed that butterflies were flitting along the trail as if they were following us. I put my Nikon D5100 in sports mode and took a few shots of a butterfly zipping around in front of me. There was a glare on the trail and frankly I couldn’t see the flying insect through my lens, so I just guessed and fired some shots. I didn’t look at the results until later that night after I downloaded 103 jpegs on my laptop. Get back, Jack! There was one frame of a butterfly with wings fully extended and its silhouette directly below on a rock—now this is exceeding expectations.
The butterfly shot was a function of excellent equipment and the luck of timing, given that I couldn’t see the subject. The shadow on the rock was a concept I’d never considered, yet it is what makes this photo special to me. At day’s end this hike and this photo remind me that I spend too much time within safe boundaries, that my thoughts, challenged by expectations, need shaking at times so that I don’t miss the adventure of living.