by Megan from Velveteen Mind, originally guest posted at Queen of Spain
A random biker on a Harley-Davidson took my picture last week. What I wanted to do was take his picture, but I hesitated. Now, instead of a photo of some random biker holding an i am bossy.com bumper sticker, all I have is a lame photo of me holding the bumper sticker and the mental picture of him riding off into the sunset, never to be seen again.
Okay, it wasn’t as romantic or dramatic as that. It was nine in the morning and there was no sunset.
This is not the first time that I have hesitated to seize an opportunity. I don’t expect it will be the last. However, I hope with each lost chance for something intriguing, I will lose a shade of that hesitation for next time.
One of the last times I let an opportunity slip away was at the beginning of this summer, as I was planting my first flower garden. For some reason, I became simply obsessed with hydrangeas. It seemed like everywhere I turned, there was a beautiful hydrangea bush, bursting with full blooms. Certainly, these bushes must be a snap to grow, as even run-down houses seemed to boast the most gorgeous bushes of blue and pink hydrangea.
Snap my ass. Apparently I don’t understand much about gardening. Or acidity of the soil. Or watering needs. My hydrangea died. Quickly. As in, the next day. Impressive.
While driving home and mourning my poor dead hydrangea one day, I noticed the most impressive hydrangea bush I had ever seen. Blue hydrangea mop heads, weighing down a massive bush outside of an old shack of a house that I had driven by a million times. I was surprised that I had never noticed this bush before because there was an old man who sat outside of this house and waved at passing drivers, if you just took the time to notice him. I always took the time to notice him. But how had I never noticed his hydrangea?
That night, I read a post by Oh, The Joys! about a conversation she shared with a couple of strangers on a plane. She wrote about how she rarely took part in plane conversations, but found herself opening up to these strangers in the most unexpected ways.
“We were three strangers talking about love and loss…
It was nice.
As much as I appreciate the quiet time to read, perhaps I should reconsider my position on plane talking…”
I decided that the next time I passed the old man with the hydrangea bush, I would pull over and talk to him. Talk to him about his hydrangea and hopefully talk to him about his life.
Dangerous? Maybe. Naive? Probably. Hopeful? Absolutely.
Having grown up in a rural community in Southern Illinois, I miss the old couples sitting out on their front steps in the evening, watching traffic and waving at the drivers who take the time to nod their way. There was something about this man, sitting in his old folding chair, next to his lush blue hydrangea bush, in front of his dilapidated old home, that spoke to me. Something familiar that I recognized. Something familiar to which I wanted to be near, if only for a moment.
The next night, I drove by his house, saw him sitting out front, began to bully up the courage to stop… and then hesitated. I realized that I was not driving the car he usually waved at me in and was suddenly afraid that he wouldn’t recognize me. As I approached the intersection in front of his home, I found myself driving right on past.
I never did stop. Despite seeing him evening after evening, I never did stop. I hesitated and the moment past me by, never to return. And now I regret the missed opportunity. The unknown pesters me.
If I have learned anything, it is that opportunities surround us every day. We just have to have our eyes open to recognizing them. It also helps to have our guts fortified so we are ready to seize them when they present themselves.
Oh, what lives we can lead when we do. When we stop hesitating and just pounce.
I used to just pounce. I did some of my favorite pouncing in college. The fortification of my gut was courtesy of a camera lens. The result was memories I will remember long after those of late night college dorm parties fade.
While experimenting with contrast filters, I drove through the streets of Montgomery, Alabama, looking for a subject to capture that would allow me to make the most of my filters. A foreshadowing of my opportunity with the hydrangea man presented itself and this time I pounced.
Outside of the entrance to the local mall parking lot, you could always count on the boiled peanut man. A heavy man in his early forties, he boiled peanuts in a huge kettle on the side of the road. People would pull over, pay a couple of dollars, and he would dip out a fresh batch of boiled peanuts into a paper bag for you.
What began as an opportunity to play with filters capturing light colored peanuts against dark water turned into an afternoon learning about a life. His huge, rough, cracked hands could have spoken a thousand words as they moved in and out of the hot water, but something in the air of the moment allowed him to open up and tell me tales his hands never suggested.
I was open to the opportunity. And I did not hesitate.
Now that fortification of my gut is found, not in a camera lens, but rather in the endless appetite of my Velveteen Mind. Always hungry for another story. Always searching for a new ear to bend.
I just have to remember to never hesitate. To simply pounce.
Just a few hours ago, I noticed your lovely Queen post a Twitter calling for guest bloggers. Figuring she was looking for someone to post, say, next week or so, I threw my hat in the ring. Her readers have always struck me as my kind of people, so what better way to introduce myself and hopefully find a few new ears to bend.
Fifteen minutes later she emailed me back and said something along the lines of “Great. Write it right now and post it yesterday.”
Okay, it wasn’t as demanding or dramatic as that, either. She actually granted me an hour or two of breathing room and then threatened to sabotage my Technorati ranking through her magical Queenly blogging influence if I didn’t deliver ASAP.
No time for hesitation this time. Seize the blog, my brutha, seize the blog.
Before she saddles up her Harley and rides.
Megan usually writes on her personal blog, Velveteen Mind, however she has a tendency to wander all over the internet, sprinkling guest posts here and there... and dragging her fabulous readers with her.