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Was it really such an achievement?
A deep breath. Puffed up. Standing straight. This was it. This was the day that he’d been waiting for, for so long. The milestone which he had secretly been trying to achieve. In reality, nothing was different. It was just a number. But it was a number with an achievement attached to it. He had finally done this thing, he had finally managed to stick to his guns and see it through.
It was something that he thought he would never see. Up until now, his life had seemed so haphazard and random, spur of the moment. Nothing had really been organised or worked out or thought out or planned. But from its first conception and a few rocky moments, here he was. He had wondered, often, whether he would get here. Whether he had bitten off too much. Whether he had set himself an impossible task. And there had been moments that it had seemed that way. But once a certain momentum had been gathered, he realised that to fail would have been the biggest failure of his life.
He noticed, with interest, how the thought of this day had spurred him on. In his darkest moments, when he had to dig deep, the thought of achieving his goal, and how it would feel when he did, helped him through. But an interesting thing happened. The closer he got, the more the emotion dampened. He realised that there was no real goal here. He had only set himself a task, a number of the same things, not a goal that he had to reach. It wasn’t losing weight or building muscle. It was merely a number of things that he had finally managed to do.
There was the proof, of course, the actual hard evidence of his work. He could line them up if he wanted and see what they looked like together. He could show the hours spent. He could post his success to social media - sing and dance about it. But right now. Today. He felt he had cheated himself.
Just because you stick to something for a set amount of time. Just because you physically produce stuff, there is no guarantee that what you do has worth. Past merely the token fact that you have done it and most people have not. But this was probably not enough.
He had seen an improvement in his ability - but that had plateaued and now had turned to routine and what he produced was slightly dull. Should he get rid of the early attempts and extend the time? Should he review and just keep what he feels is good enough and then continue until his goal is met in a manner to which, he feels, is acceptable - an acceptable quality level?
All this made him feel flat. All of this made him realise that just the repetitive doing of one thing does not make you any good at it. It takes more than that. He wondered if, in fact, he should just start again, did he have it in him to do that? Do things properly this time? There were no assurances he could do better.
And so here he was. On his big day. Feeling nothing. Feeling that perhaps today was no different from the first, or halfway through or coming to an end - seeing the finishing line in sight. It was a number. Just a number. But it was also something he had stuck to. Okay, perhaps what he had produced was not the best thing ever - was not this huge, important insight that he had expected. Perhaps it was trite and mediocre. But, perhaps, it was a stepping stone. A way towards something more. Something more real, important, something that he could look back on and be truly happy with. Perhaps he would start again and think about this day. And when it came around the next time, he would see how significant it was, how important it was for him to have achieved this first milestone.
Table Mountain, Cape Town, South Africa, March 2020, Nikon d750
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