Avoiding Disappointment

“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.”  First Corinthians 2:9

A couple of weeks ago I finally finished reading the book How to be Wild, by Simon Barnes, which Rob gave to me.  Toward the end of the book there is a sentence that I think is very important.  Barnes writes, “If you go out looking for wildlife, you will get many disappointments: but you will be paid back by any amount of extraordinary things you weren’t looking for.”  He gives several illustrations throughout the book from his own experience to validate this point.  What Barnes says about wildlife can also be said about other aspects of nature.  For example, a person who goes into the woods looking for just one species of wildflower may not find it but still, nonetheless, discover lots of other wonderful things.

Many nature photographers go out intent on photographing one thing.  If they do not find what they are looking for they come back frustrated or disappointed. They may even consider the day a waste of their time.  Others, those who are wise, usually discover that even though they did not find their intended subject they still had a chance to witness and enjoy countless other wonders in nature.  These individuals may come back disappointed, too, but are filled with gratitude at the same time.  They would not think of the day being a waste of their time at all.  The other blessings experienced would override their disappointment.

John Muir once wrote, In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.”  The more time I spend in nature the more I realize just how true this is.  There is so much in God’s Creation to see, hear, smell, and touch.  All of us, whether we be photographers or not, should always enter natural areas with a sense of openness and wonder.  We can certainly hope to see certain things but should remain ready for serendipitous surprises along the way too.  If we do not, we will miss “any amount of extraordinary things.”

And if this is true in the natural world, it is equally true in the many other dimensions of our lives.  Experience has shown me that every single day is filled with countless blessings but some days I am so intent on receiving one particular blessing I miss out on all the other ones.  Other days I am more open and receptive to whatever comes my way and these days seem to be the ones that I am extraordinarily blessed.  We truly do set ourselves up for disappointment when we get fixed on just one prize.  If you’re not finding exactly what you’re looking for right now—either in nature or life in general—I encourage you to relax and look around you.  There may well be something even better close by.  God has a wonderful way of doing that.

–Chuck