I used to be really bad at taking pictures. Somehow, I could not get the hang of my 110 Instamatic. First, I had to buy the film. Then, feeling the strain of the expense of a roll of film, I severely rationed the use of 24 exposures. When the roll of film was spent, it was either left in the camera to season, or removed and tossed in the center drawer of the desk to await a newspaper coupon for discounted developing. 18 months later, coupon and cash exchanged for prints, it was disheartening to find my memories of the occasion fuzzy – and also my pictures. What a waste. My too frugal budget could not stand it. I gave up taking pictures.
For decades, my life was built on getting it right the first time. Experimentation that resulted in waste was not allowed. While excellence is a worthy goal; perfectionism or poverty are cruel and joyless motivators. Failure to get it right the first time results in giving up because you cannot afford to give yourself a second chance.
I continue to live on a frugal budget. These days, I have a smart little economical camera that allows me to take pictures with wild abandon; keeping or discarding at will at no extra expense. The freedom to practice away increases the quality of my photos. Even the batteries are rechargeable. News publications that used to be chary with color print and picture space now require a picture – an eye-catching visual – to publish. A camera is essential to my writing career.
If you are going to write about life; another essential is experience. Some experiences come via attending events. Events come with a cost; ten dollars, twenty, maybe even forty for a concert or show. Attending events is like taking pictures – you win a few and you lose a few. Many times you just click the discard button. But you keep going because once in awhile there is a stellar surprise. It’s a lot like life.
What I really want is a digital budget – maybe even a digital life. I want to be a shutter bug, clicking away at memories, pictures, events – not missing out on a single thing. But, I want to be able to delete the fuzzy, smudged, unfocused and undesirable. I want to quit demanding my money back for the events that failed to meet my expectations; but I also want the freedom to keep practicing until I get it right.