The Achievements of Others… Do you envy, admire, are challenged or inspired by them?

EmptyShell

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A friend of a friend recently revealed that a project of theirs, of the team of which they are a part, had been shortlisted for an Oscar nomination in one of those categories which doesn’t always make it to the show which airs on TV, but which is still very important to those who are nominated for it and may win such a coveted prize.

The friend who told me about this was excited about the news. They had watched their friend develop the talent, with lots of hard work, dedication, and determination, which had led to this possible Oscar nomination.

They were happy for their friend, they admired them with a small hint of envy, the kind of envy which is productive rather than destructive as it challenged them and inspired them in an encouraging way to pursue their own talent as their possible Oscar nominated friend had done.

The achievements of others often leave us with mixed feelings. The same mixed feelings which you see on the faces of those which are focused upon by the cameramen who film the Oscar ceremony and whose job it is to record the reactions of the audience, especially those members of the audience who were nominated in a category but did not win the prize, and now they have to watch as one of their colleagues wins the prize which was almost in their grasp but not quite – better luck next time, if there is a next time.

There are some people who, no matter how hard they work, no matter how talented they are, how determined to succeed… never win the prize. They are the proverbial eternal bridesmaid who is never the bride – that’s a rather awkward comparison, since being a bride is a mixed blessing. Is it really an achievement or the beginning of a different kind of challenge which doesn’t really have a prize at the end of it, and is it fair to consider a groom to be a trophy which the bride has won?

Politically and other types of correctness aside, what that old proverb shows is how competitive humans are in all matters, especially those of the heart – the things which we care about, have a passion for, and pursue with a lust for achievement of one sort or another.

I’ve often flummoxed people with my seeming lack of ambition. I don’t lack ambition, I just don’t necessarily express it in a conventional manner, the expected way to which those people who are flummoxed can relate. Because they can’t relate, they deem me to be without ambition, which they can’t understand and it disturbs them, mostly because they’re competitive and they can’t find a way to compete with me and win the competition. I’m the runner who runs the race backwards and that is ridiculous to them, so they dismiss me as a fool and get as far away from me as possible in case such a thing is infectious.

I’ve tried being conventionally ambitious and competitive. It doesn’t suit me and feels artificial. It’s me being not me. But you have to try things out sometimes to find that out, and because you want to belong and be accepted and acceptable, even if you know that’s not a prize you’re ever going to win. You’re the designated outsider so that others can be insiders.

I don’t know if I would have been this way naturally (I suspect that I probably would have been), but I do know that the nurture which my nature received did influence my attitude.

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LikeaSpiralinaCircle

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I grew up in an environment which was consistently competitive – and I was always the bridesmaid. The designated bridesmaid, and was expected to consider such a designation as an honour, as a prize in and of itself, as I could have been just a member of the audience of such a ceremony, or an uninvited guest who crashed the wedding.

My father was successful in his career. He had developed his natural talent through hard work, dedication and determination. He won accolades for what he did, but they were never enough – ambition is like that.

My mother also had a career, but she gave it up when she married my father. Those were the times, and what was expected by those who lived in those times. And that… meant that her ambitions were subverted in a way which at first was productive and later proved to be destructive. Her admiration eventually became pure envy which devoured everyone who was a blip on her radar.

If you wanted to retain enough of yourself to survive, you had to appear to be without ambition, without talent, without anything worth eating by her very hungry envy (and in some ways my ambition was subverted into a quest to get out alive and as intact as was possible under such circumstances – the jury is still deliberating on whether I achieved a prize in this challenge).

I admire the work of those who run The Daily Post, their dedication to inspiring and challenging the bloggers who use such a wonderful tool such as WordPress. I also admire and am grateful to all those who work hard in a dedicated and determined manner, to keep a tool such as WordPress working, evolving, so that bloggers like me can use it.

The prize for meeting Th Daily Post’s challenges, and prompts, is in participating, in finding out what we can create and being surprised at our own creativity and talent. Sure there is the golden carrot of being featured on Freshly Pressed, however some of those who’ve been featured have described it as a mixed blessing of many mixed feelings, while others have described it as an achievement which has propelled them into a quest to keep achieving their heart’s desire, their ambition to which they determinedly dedicate their hard work. And sure I’d like to be featured, as I said I’m ambitious, however… sometimes I prefer striving to achieve rather than achieving, because once you achieve something… then what? You need to find a new golden carrot to try to catch, and golden carrots are a bit on the teeth-breaking inedible side. Tasty until you actually taste them. But still… they look so delicious, as all things do which we have yet to attain.

Such is life, ambition, and being human – a complex puzzle which is perhaps more fun when we are trying to solve it than when we solve it. Then again… the satisfaction of solving such a puzzle… hmmm.

I read an intriguing article this morning which sums up in part the ‘Why’ (the ambition which motivates) of why I take photographs – PhotoTherapy. It’s how I get to know myself and glimpse the myriad of things which are contained by one human. It informs me about myself, but more than that, it informs me about others using myself as a point of reference. We are all so much more than what others see of us, be it a photograph we took, a post which we wrote, and all those other bits and pieces, facets, which others see – and others are so much more than what we see of them.

Take the Selfie, for instance. There has been a lot written about this phenomenon – a portion of what has been written about it is critical. The general consensus, the developing conventional view, seems to be that we should sneer at those who take lots of selfies and post them on social media. Why? Why are we so anti-selfie? Why do we care (in a negative manner) if someone posts pics of themselves – what’s our trophy for judging this activity, and those who participate in it? Are we envious that selfie-takers (and sharers of selfies which have been taken) do what they do? Do we want to do it too… but somehow feel that we can’t?

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Selfie-ness

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A picture is worth a thousand words – what are the thousand words which a selfie expresses? And whose words are they? Yours when you look at someone else’s selfie or those of the selfie-taker?

Is a selfie an achievement? It could be if the person who now takes selfies used to hate themselves, the way that they looked, and what the way that they looked meant to them. Perhaps the selfie is self-therapy using photography. And they share it to celebrate their achievement, themselves, the fact that they are alive, and have survived all those challenges which life presents all of us with from the moment we are born (and sometimes before we are born).

The achievements of others… Do you envy, admire, are challenged or inspired by them?

What does it say about you, your self (selfie) and what does it say about them, their self (selfie)?

For me, taking photographs, is an achievement of an unseen ambition, a silent ‘Like’ button pressed to release the shutter whose value as a trophy can only be known within. The resulting shot is a picture which expresses more than a thousand words, a thousands snapshots of life lived and yet to be lived, each pixel has a story. Facets whose faces may never be seen, but may be felt somewhere, somehow in the mists of time, space, being… a tree growing where once there was a fence. When I take a photo of myself, you may see a selfie, a sign of narcissism perhaps, I hear an echo and see a self who wants to be known… by me, the life within, the blood flowing… since blood first flowed from the very first beat of a heart.

You… are an achievement of life. What meaning that has… is it up to you, others, or is it a meaning that will never be known, for to know it is to…?

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BrokenBoundaries

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Prelude to a post, this post – While contemplating this week’s Weekly Photo Challenge: Achievement, whether to participate or not, and if I chose to participate, how to do it in a way which fit the brief and suited me too – things which are not always one and the same, at least in my mind… two joggers ran resolutely along the verge of the road which borders my little plot of living. I watched them, unseen… which was a relief as I was slouchingly leaning against the back door frame, drinking a beer and smoking a cigarette. They were being conventionally healthy and I was being conventionally unhealthy watching them being conventionally healthy… which made me conventionally self-conscious of how conventionally unhealthy I was being. For a brief instant I hated them for making me feel this way. Then I chuckled at my… whatever. Humour is a conventional and unconventional reliever of all those things, the burdens which we put upon ourselves and others. I lightened my load and found my inspiration for this post – just be yourself and go with it, see where it leads. The results may not achieve anything or win any prizes but you may surprise yourself… and that’s something.

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