By Simon Palmer
I recently received a lovely email back from the organiser of one of my talks that I give to camera clubs. This particular talk was about horses (so it does have relevance!). The title of the talk is: “From Rocking to Horses”, where I describe how my photography has over time transitioned from music photography to horse photography (and now further). But it struck me as I was writing this talk, and selecting images that the importance of experiences and how they build on how we work moving forward are interlinked. How sometimes something that seems to be an accident of chance, actually is more like fate helping steer us.
The title of the talk is ambiguous on purpose. I want to suggest the need for curiosity about the talk. Normally, most of us do not enjoy dealing with ambiguity. It’s not a comfortable feeling when you don’t know how things are going to play out. You could argue that the same applies in the relationship between a horse and their human companion. Like any relationship, we simply don’t know what will happen in the future, and we can either resign ourselves to having to deal with ambiguity, or a more positive approach would be intrepid curiosity. This is something that explorers have in large quantities.
This is something I am starting to learn about when I give talks. When you go to a new venue with new people you never know how something will be received, and while some people are ultra-confident (at least on the outside), I am always worried about not meeting expectations. Perhaps I shouldn’t have picked an ambiguous title for one of my talks!
So when you receive an email that you weren’t expecting saying the feedback for was more than positive, and also if they can book you a year in advance for another, it does wonders for the brain. Let’s think about that for a moment, we really do set ourselves up to fail don’t we. We get on a horse at the start of the competition, and hope the horse doesn’t buck, plant, refuse, fall, or worse! Instead, we should settle ourselves for the fact that we are doing something we enjoy, the horse is a living breathing companion, friend, confident, who will try their level best to keep them and you safe!
Sue and I talk about presenting and she hates the thought of standing up in front of a group of people and speaking. Something I hasten to add she is very good at, but still the rudeness of the brain telling her she is going to die is controlling her. Once the adrenaline kicks in she is OK, and blows people away. I know this because people tell me afterwards. It’s the same adrenaline that we feel on the horse, but instead of harnessing it to allow us to achieve the very thing we bought the horse for, fun, enjoyment, competition, it runs away with us, and causes the horse to think there’s a problem. We sabotage our own fun. The ambiguity of the result throws us off, and then potentially the horse throws us off too!
I love presenting, it’s something I enjoy, and whether or not people think I’m good at it, I enjoy it. You should try that with your horse, enjoy it for the experience it should be, not for the unseen moment that hasn’t and probably never will happen. Ambiguity….embrace it just for fun…