A recent new (non-photography) purchase has led me down a path of additional experimenting and tweaking. It’s got me thinking about how I constantly strive to make things better, which on the whole I feel is positive.
But at what point do we need to just stop trying to improve every last aspect, and embrace what we have?
In an effort to reduce my car travel (one of my roles at work is in a Sustainability Group, and it’s seemed incongruous with rolling up in a diesel car for a 3.5 mile journey every day), save some money, and rejuvenate an old passion, I’ve recently invested in a new bike.
Essentially it’s a mountain bike with an additional electric motor (so an “ebike”), so I can ride using pedal power as much as I wish, then rely on a boost from the motor when needed.
It’s a remarkably effective set up, and I’m enjoying it greatly.
Inevitably, all was not perfect out of the box.
The handlebars had too long a reach, so I rotated them (they’re curved) so now I’m not over-stretching.
Very similarly, the seat was too far back, so I’ve slid that forward a few centimetres, and I feel in full control of the bike. These are both great examples of a simple and free tweak that reaps rewards.
However, as I’m going to be sometimes travelling in darkness, I also needed to buy a set of lights. And because I’m obsessed with numbers (how fast, how far, how hot!) I also got a speedometer. And because I’ll be travelling on wet roads sometimes, I’ve bought some mudguards. And a waterproof cover for my backpack.
After trying a few trips with my stuff (lunch, jacket and bike lock is about all) in said backpack, I’m getting too hot, so decided to get a pannier rack. But this doesn’t fit that well with the rear mudguard, and if I try to put my backpack on it, there are too many straps and clips overhanging dangerously close to the wheels.
So I either carry on with it on my back overheating, or get another more suitable bag that fits the pannier rack better.
Also, the saddle isn’t so comfortable, so I’ve been looking at softer options.
And so the changes and possible “upgrades” go on.
But when does the exploration of genuine upgrades that make our lives more comfortable, efficient and enjoyable, reach a point where we just need to say stop and make do with what we have?
It’s much the same with cameras (yes, I hadn’t forgotten this is predominantly a photography blog).
The same questions apply – when do we stop buying and just get down to enjoying what we have, quirks and all?
I already have a sadly neglected non-electric mountain bike, and have thought about swapping any components I might prefer on one to the other. And, to my surprise, in researching that bike again, I came across a site called Retrobike which it appears is essentially a forum for people who love older bikes, rather than the latest and greatest shiny new ones.
Now I’m very tempted to research the availability of bikes I highly desired when I was first into mountain bikes in my teens, the likes of Specialized Stumpjumpers, Kona Cindercones and Orange Clockworks, which can now be had for relative peanuts.
In some ways, there are parallels to my camera journey, which has also heavily featured me exploring older cameras (especially digital) that I couldn’t afford (or couldn’t justify spending so much on) when they were new.
Once I find a new avenue, the possibilities explode and off I go…
I don’t really have any serious intentions of buying another bike (or the space for it), but I do have a few further adjustments to make on my new one before it feels right.
So, for now, I continue to feel the restlessness of betterment.
How about you? How long do you feel it’s ok to keep looking for ways to improve, and when do you decide to just embrace it warts and all and do the best you can with what you have?
Please let us know below (and remember to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).
Thanks for looking. Please share this post with others you feel will enjoy it too. If you’re interested, this is what my photography life looks like right now.