This will be a follow-up to the previous post, Focusing on the Process. I recently I ran into some applicable elements from that post. In particular, I was challenged to accept what is in my control and working with that. However, there were some elements of prioritizing the process as well. If you haven’t read that post, I suggest you take a moment to familiarize yourself with the ideas in this post.
Here’s the link: Focusing on the Process.
Focus on the Process: Yordanovden
Yordanovden, celebrated on January 6 in Bulgaria, is to celebrate the day John the Baptist baptized Jesus Christ in the Jordan River. One of the traditions, around Bulgaria, is for boys and men to enter a river to retrieve a cross, which is thrown into the water. It is believed that whoever retrieves the cross will be healthy and will find success in life. The brave men who enter the cold waters then perform a men’s horo, a type of circle dance originating in the Balkans, and splash water on the onlookers for health.
I was talking to a friend and he kindly offered to drive me to a village, Kalofer, to photograph the river event. I explained why I would like to depart for Kalofer early, to beat the crowd, so that I could get a good location to shoot from.
If this was a monthly event or something that happened more frequently it’s less of an issue. However, since this only happens once a year I preferred to make sure I was there early and in position before everyone else. Even if taking photos wasn’t my intent, I knew if we showed up late the crowd would make it difficult to see anything.
My friend agreed, but, as I unfortunately expected, he arrived late to pick me up. We got to the village just as the event was beginning. As always, on Yordanovden, the banks on both sides of the river were packed with people. The main section where the horo takes place was a complete mess.
Standing a massive 5’6” (for those of you who prefer meters or cm…I’d know, sorry, um I’m short, but I’m a respectable height for a Cambodian, thank you very much!) I knew there was no chance of seeing anything at the main section. Furthermore, there was certainly no chance I was getting photos from there.
So, I crossed the bridge and wandered through the crowd until I came to a small footbridge with a mini shack attached. People were standing along the edge of the bank on both sides of the shack. However, there was a small gap big enough for a petite Asian to wiggle through. Being the petite Asian man that I am, I accepted the challenge. I crawled under the crowd and popped an “Asian squat” (see photo below) underneath the bridge. Fortunately, I had on my waterproof hiking shoes as I was partially standing in the river.
Now, from the location under the bridge I didn’t see the cross nor the horo or the water splashing festivities. I’ll admit I was frustrated and a bit disappointed, especially since I woke up a well before my self-declared “too damn early” hour. However, this did become a perfect example of prioritizing the process and focusing on what I could control.
What Can you Control?
Let’s start with the control. If you remember from the last post, there are three categories of control that can be helpful to consider. Those categories of control are; complete control, partial control, and no control. There are a lot of factors that could go into these categories, but I’ll focus on a few, essentially the main ones that impacted me.
– I had partial control over when we left and arrived at the village. I made a request for a departure time, but I could not control when he would actually arrive to pick me up. So, in a way this was out of my control. Since we did have a late departure and arrival, a lot became out of my control.
– So, there was a crowd. Sure, I could have asked people to let me up front, but that was an unlikely request to be granted. And the other people’s response would be out of my control.
– As mentioned, the actual depart time was out of my control.
– I had no control of the other onlookers. Other people wanted to witness the event as well. The only way to overcome that would have been arrive early, which was an irrelevant point by the time I arrived.
– As obvious as it is to say, I couldn’t control the environment. There were limited physical space and locations from which to shoot from to observe everything.
– First, what I could control was my mindset. That was probably the most important. It does not good to worry about what can’t be changed or were out of my control. We were late. There was a crowd. I could enjoy the moment and overall environment. Move forward rather than be upset. Sure, frustration and disappointment is natural and acceptable. However, there is no reason to let those emotions take away from the opportunities that still exist. Better to focus on the opportunities I had, not what I didn’t have, wished I had, or missed out on.
– Next, I could find a way to get some kind of photos one way or another. I could capture whatever I could while I was there. This is where accepting that you won’t get what you planned and winging it comes into play. Explore and try to get creative. I just kept looking until I saw the small space for me to crawl under. I know I’m comfortable crouching beneath a bridge in the water.