Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Driving the donkey

Let me tell you about a friend and former colleague of mine; we'll call him Tom. Tom is a 'big picture' person, an idea-generator, and someone who is so excited about possibilities that he often fails to see the finer details that will make them work. A few years ago, he bought a 3-bedroom house in need of renovation, quickly converted it into a 4-bedroom home (being a builder in a former life was very helpful here), then decided six months later that he wanted to move some of the kitchen cabinets 30cm across because the family needed a bit more room around the dishwasher. Oh, and he would eventually add glass to the doors of the display cabinet, and skirting boards under each of the cupboards, but in the meantime there were so many other possible projects around the house that he could move on to before then. I have the utmost admiration for his incredibly patient and understanding wife.

Tom is fond of using idioms, but his penchant for ideas over accuracy means that they often come out of his mouth in a slightly different form. For example:
"How are you doing today, Tom?"
"Oh, I'm a box of budgies!" (when he was probably, in fact, looking for fluffy ducks).
During a staff meeting, where we were being informed about a requirement to follow some new bureaucratic process, the details of which I forget, in order to do something we'd always done anyway (or possibly even had done better before), Tom became increasingly jittery. He could see what we saw: this "new" process was simply going to add to our workload and not actually achieve what we needed or wanted. However, in order to demonstrate compliance, we could blindly follow it and then eventually get down to the business we'd set out to do. Tom couldn't see the point. Many others agreed, but Tom put it in a way no-one else could: "That's just the tail driving the donkey!", he announced in frustration. Ok, so he was supposed to say "tail wagging the dog", but there was no mistaking what he meant.

From then on, donkeys became a bit of a theme in our team and the butt of many jokes. However, the message was always clear: whatever we did, we wanted it to be for the right reasons and not simply because the tail was driving the donkey. This is not easy in most workplaces.

Another colleague views blogging in very much the same way. She maintains that "a blog should be a tool or a vehicle for expression - you drive it and not the other way around". I agree; I maintain this blog because I enjoy writing and blogging and not because I feel compelled to post a certain number of times each week. However, I realised this morning that the situation is not the same for my Project 365 blog; I feel it is that tail that is indeed driving this donkey.

I was a little hesitant to start Project 365, which involves taking a photo each and every day and posting it to a blog. I was drawn to the idea of visually representing a year of my life, but not necessarily to the photography aspect. The photos I have taken have either been significant or interesting to me, but were never intended to be technically good examples of photography; they are personal, rather than taken for an audience. At times, the pressure of finding a subject to photograph every day has got me down and, as I don't tend to upload photos daily, I've been uploading 'back posts' of photos every few days. I suppose it doesn't really matter when I post, but having a photo-less week last week has now put me a week 'behind' with this project.

I've decided to stop letting the tail drive the donkey. I will still endeavour to take a photo a day, but if I don't make it on a particular day (or days), I'm not going to let it worry me. I will continue to post photos in numerical order and see where I end up on 1 June 2010, one year after beginning the project. Strange though it may seem, some days I simply have nothing much to say. Surely I don't need a picture to prove that?


Sab said...

I totally understand. I decided to post when I want to. I have no problem taking a pic a day (having a daughter and all), but posting daily is too much trouble for me. :)

Drama Queen said...

I am with you on this - I attempted Project 365 last January - got discouraged - and gave it up. I'm going to try again at the start of next year, but if I don't get a photo every. single. day. - I won't beat myself up.

Thanks for stopping by my blog - I appreciate it!


Quirky Mon said...

I'm totally with you on the blogging guilt free. Earlier I would be driven to post on my blog almost daily with little regards for quality content, only to get the blog going. And there was the craze of guest posts, employing current blog trends, answering memes...just to fit in the blogging community. But the love for writing got drained in the process. Taking a break now from blogging, and would write only when the creative urge prods. My blog, my way :)

~JarieLyn~ said...

I can relate to your post. Although, I never started project 365, I did get overwhelmed trying to participate in several photography memes. Now, I only participate in two, Mosaic Monday and Friday Town Shoot Out and I really love it.

I originally started my blog because I love to write and I needed an outlet to express myself, however, I unleashed a passion for photography that is growing every single day. Because of this I have joined a camera club in my town. Seeing life through my lens has made me so much more aware of nature and the beauty all around me, in ordinary things. It's good.

If I haven't told you before, I enjoy your writing very much.

donna said...

How did I miss this post???!!!! You are so right! I have 365 on my list too. I started once, went about 70 days and ended up dropping it because I missed taking a weeks worth of pictures. I like the idea of doing the project over a year and if something isn't so significant that it makes you want to take a picture then you don't. Thank you! :)