A Lesson on the Back Roads

On Wisconsin's Back Roads

It takes discipline to take photographs, and a certain confidence. I don’t score high on life’s quiz when measuring discipline or confidence. But I’m learning – in little ways.

Take, for example, this photo of the two barns. To me, it represents progress. So you might ask, “Progress in photographic skills?” Nope, not what I’m talking about here. Progress in discipline, progress in confidence. If that sounds far-fetched, I’ll explain.

I drive Wisconsin roads at least three times a week for the sole purpose of seeing what there is to see. I routinely have my camera gear with me – that’s habit – so I’m always looking for opportunities to shoot a photograph or two. But here is the sticking point that stops me from even trying to capture many of the photographic opportunities I imagine.

I’m not driving the car. To clarify, here’s a typical scenario:

Bo (craning head as the car zooms down the road): That would make a great shot.
Sherpa (concentrating on driving and catching the Packers’ game on the radio): Do you want me to turn around?
Bo (still looking back in the distance): Uh, no. Never mind.
Sherpa (still zooming down the road): OK.
Bo (thinking silently): That could have been a great shot!

After I repeated this scene more times than I care to admit, I realized the situation was a not an example of great communication skills. And it wasn’t working. I would be a bit miffed that Sherpa hadn’t responded to my comment by stopping the car with squealing brakes and burning rubber. Sherpa had no clue. And truthfully, if he had stopped the car every time I said “that would be a great shot,” we’d be fortunate to travel a mile in an hour.

So I explained this predicament to Sherpa, who truly had no idea I’d really wanted to stop. And we made an agreement. I could say “that would be a great shot” a million times an hour if I wanted. That’s a good plan, because I say those words before I even realize I’ve said them. But, and here’s the simple solution that is my big step of progress, I now ask him to turn around some of the time.

You’d think that wouldn’t have been such a big revelation. Well, it was.

I had to come to terms with a couple of basic facts. Even after 33 years of marriage, the guy still cannot read my mind. He will never be able to read my mind, so if I want to take a photograph, and I don’t want to stick my camera out the car window for a drive-by shooting, then I need to say those magic words.

“Yes. Please turn around.”

It works.

Ah, such a simple solution. (You think?)

About Bo Mackison

I'm a photographer, book-artist, traveler, naturalist, and creator of the Contemplative Creatives Journey, An Online Workshop and Community and Desert Wisdom Cards and Workshops. Though often not well known, I find the desert a welcoming place - a healing space. Its mysteries and gifts transformed me several years ago. Since that first encounter, I return again and again to fill my well in what most people think of as a desolate region. I'd love to share my desert discoveries and wisdom with you. Please subscribe to receive my five part mini email course The Gifts of the Desert. It's my gift to you.

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