Advice and inspiration from good friends

“Moon Over Murvaul” —photo by Leon Aldridge

Sage advice gleaned from a good friend and business associate some years ago suggests that reaching desired goals sometimes requires utilizing the 25th, 26th and 27th hours of the day. Being one who has never hesitated investing the time required for completing a task, I have been on a first name basis with those three hours most of my life. The only drawback is they typically are available only when it’s dark outside and everyone else is enjoying a good night’s sleep.

Arriving at a time in life that I used to envision as one when I would slow down and take things a little easier, I instead find myself with foot still on the accelerator and gaining speed, still depending on those three elusive hours. Compounding matters is the fact that I more often than not, tend to take on more than I can get done. Some delight in crossing things off their “to do” list, but not me. I throw everything on it and feel great if I get half of them done.

While I’ve long wondered whether this was a healthy approach to feeling any sense of achievement, I may have moved closer to an answer recently. An ex-military fighter pilot and former Navy Blue Angels flight demonstration team pilot got my attention a couple of weeks ago on one salient point while applying military planning to business strategy. Paraphrasing his comparison of flying combat missions in the Middle East to running a business, as long as you return from the mission, there are no failures. Some are successful, the others you learn from in order to increase the success rate of future missions. Maybe that’s been my subconscious mind set all along. I succeed at completing some, I learn from the others that I’m not going to get the rest done, but at least it gives me something to look forward to.

One of those learning missions for me in 2015, a year wrought with more surprises and adjustments than most, was posting a regular column or two in this cyberspace hole every week as I cheerily promised I would do at the outset. Started great off the line and built some speed early in the mission, then along came some of those surprises and challenges rendering the column space more a learning experience than a successful mission.

Also on my list was to recapture some fun in my photography endeavors. Years of using a camera as a tool to put food on the table neutralized a desire to get out and shoot purely for pleasure. Therefore, two of my “goals” in 2016, as I addressed them in this same space as the new year rolled in, was to resume regular writing for fun and to regain pleasurable photo pursuits.

Already well into the new year, I was still fumbling for the switch to ignite these endeavors when along comes long-time friend and photographer Susan Prewitt from my hometown of Mount Pleasant, Texas. She unknowingly fanned the flames for one, if not both, of those personal goals when she challenged me last week to a seven-day Nature Photo Challenge on Facebook. The objective was to post a new nature photograph every day for seven days.

Something else on my list to do? Will this one be a successful mission or a learning experience? I already knew the answer because on the list with working extra hours and putting too much on my “to do” list in the first place is the fact that I can’t say “no,” especially to a good friend like Susan.  My smiling response to her? “I accept your challenge. I’m on it.”

Sunday was four days in, and I’m already lamenting that it’s only a seven-day mission. Posting Sunday night’s photo, a “moon set” picture taken at Lake Murvaul in Panola County reminded me of two things. One, capturing that set of images was fun. Two, it required several sessions at 3:00 to 4:00 a.m. during full moon phases meaning I was working on the moon’s schedule as opposed to mine.

Accepting Susan’s challenge helped fire up my return to photography purely for fun, ensuring that learning experience would become a successful mission. The fact that this column was posted soon after, I’m thinking, is no coincidence. I’m leaning more toward the theory that returning to photos for fun was also the stimulus to remember that I was writing for fun as well.

Also not coincidentally, I’m pretty sure the 25th, 26th and 27th hours of the day are found somewhere around 3:00 to 4:00 a.m.

— Leon Aldridge


About “Moon Over Murvaul”—While living on Lake Murvaul in about ’04, I woke up early one morning and couldn’t go back to sleep. Part of why I couldn’t sleep was because the moon light was so bright, you could have read a newspaper in the bedroom. Despite the fact that it was between 3:00 and 4:00 in the morning, the moon light lured me into the back yard and down to the pier with camera in hand where I spent the next half hour or so shooting frame after frame of the setting full moon.

This became a ritual with me for the next several months during the ensuing full moon phases. The result was a collection of fantastic full-moon-setting shots that I treasure. The one I posted to Facebook for the challenge, the same one accompanying this column, resembled what I would call a harvest moon. I’ve seen many harvest moons rising, but this was my first setting harvest moon to witness.

I’m not sure whether that’s because a harvest moon set is that unusual, or if my being up that early in the morning is really unusual.

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