In my career as a marketer I have always thirsted for benchmarks.
“How does this compare with…” I catch myself frequently saying. In this digital age you can measure pretty much anything and everything. My work days are littered with analytics, metrics and ‘split-tests’. I tell those I manage…
“it’s ok to fail, but it’s not ok to not know if you have failed.”
I guess this perpetual measurement also spills over into my ‘real’ life as well, in fact I am certain it does. However I want to stress that in my line of work – Branding and Marketing – justification of spend is vital. MDs and CEOs see Marketing as a behemoth line on the ‘P & L’ second only in heftiness to wages. In other words you need to know your numbers!
So why take the time to explain all this work jargon? Well it is important as background for what follows
You see recently in a park near to my home this creature of habit changed. I had an epiphany of sorts or perhaps it was more akin to splitting the work/ life atom? I still believe “if it can’t be measured it can’t be managed” but I have made the decision to leave metrics at the office. To expel any lingering vestige of my workplace far, far away from my home life. Would you like to know what happened to instil such rousing sentiment? Well I’ll tells ya…
I looked Up.
I never look up!
Down yes, sideways for sure, forward mostly and even occasionally backwards – but up really never. Why would I? Plus, normally if I took my eyes off where I was going I would be sure to trample to death an old infirm lady who got between me and the next meeting I was running late for. Look up – pfft!
But you see in the last few months I have had a holistic shift in how I view the world and this reframing of my life’s priorities is the reason this blog exists. Thirty Summers was designed as a place to come and escape ordinary and in our sixth month, and as it’s editor, I’m finally starting to walk-the-walk. This life re-framing and priority shifting all started this autumn.
Falling for autumn.
Ever since I can remember I’ve always loathed autumn. I detested it so much because I hated winter. Autumn was just an irritating buffer season. A purgatory before a bleak winter. But this year – for the first time ever – I simply adored autumn. It was delicious. I lapped up the colours, the glorious crunch of leaves beneath your feet, the photographic opportunities and the fact that you could face the warm late afternoon sun like a sun dial without being lathered head to toe in 30+ sunscreen. In fact it may have even, in one fell swoop, become my favourite season. I even wrote an autumnal post on my change of attitude.
So you can see mentality change was already afoot and there had already been a significant paradigm shift in my way of thinking. I was beginning to question context and long-held perceptions and I’m sure I could feel my well worn ‘yardstick’ beginning to quiver. And rightly so…
I started questioning myself about why I actually hated winter so much. ‘Because you always have’ was not an answer I was going to allow myself to accept. Now I must stress that I live in Melbourne, Australia and when I say winter I’m talking daytime maximum temperatures of around 12 – 13 degrees Celsius (50s F), on a bad day. So those reading in Novosibirsk, Siberia may not be able to empathise too well. But for the rest of us I need to tell you that I have found plenty to like, if not love, about this Melbourne winter.
First off I bought a cool new beanie. For a bloke with not much hair ‘having’ to wear a hat is excellent news indeed. Secondly, as alluded to above, it’s not really that cold. Warm jacket, thick socks, cool beanie (did I mention this) and out the door – easy.
Most important of all however is being able to spend time with my son. He will go to school next year and he will doubtless change if only a little, he will continue to grow up and I recognise that time spent now sans influence of teachers, school mates and other external influences is finite and precious. If I was still angry at winter then I wouldn’t have gotten to sit, chat and play ‘I spy’ with him on a park bench, beneath a wintry sun trying its best to warm us both. A now treasured memory that would never have been.
It was 12 degrees Celsius (54 F) whilst we were enjoying our time in the park. Apply some context to that. If you are reading this in summer you probably just shivered looking at that temperature. Makes sense. When you have 27 degrees as your frame-of-reference then 12 degrees seems hideous. But it wasn’t, it was simply delightful and that’s why that yardstick of mine should be so nervous. I’m throwing it out and replacing it with a little more ‘let’s see what happens’ in my life.
I mentioned earlier in this post that something important happened. I was keen to let you know that this was not an ‘out-of-the-blue’ moment. Rather something that has been building for some months. Something, for me at least, uncharted yet stimulating. A purposeful reframing of priorities, as if leaving the door ajar for something great to enter. And so it was, as I lay on a park bench enjoying the sun that…
I looked up.
I looked up and didn’t see dead, withered and ugly branches devoid of leaves, I saw beauty. I saw zigzagging lines, I saw lines of contrast drawn by the rays of the winter sun along the mighty limbs of soaring trees, I saw mother-nature almost at rest, recharging. I love spring blossoms, the verdant greens of summer and ethereal golden hues of autumn and now I also love the austere geometry of winter branches.
Ok so it’s nowhere near as good as something like Veni Vidi Veci but at least I now have my mantra
I looked up. I never look up. I’ll look up more often.
My submission in the Weekly Photo Challenge. This week’s theme: Change.
All photography © Saxon Templeton