One of my most memorable times in Afghanistan was the four days I spent in the Band-e Amir National Park. Kabul is an exciting, bustling city, but its air is also extremely polluted and for security reasons, I didn’t walk around on the streets much. Band-e Amir was the polar opposite. Quiet (except for the gurgling of flowing water), pristine air, and the ability to wander the park alone safely restored and energized me.
One day I visited the school that served the surrounding villages and had a chance to talk with a few of the young teachers. They had been raised in Iran and after marriage had come to the village to live with their in-laws. When I exclaimed how BEAUTIFUL the landscape was, they replied that they hated living here. “It’s so boring!” they exclaimed. I could see what they meant. Their lives of teaching four hours a day, coming home to live under the thumb of their mothers-in-law, endless housework, limited access to books plus the lack of Internet would drive me crazy, too.
It was the same with my hosts who were immersed in their routine daily lives. I would photograph all day and return in the evening to edit my images. They were very curious to see things through my eyes, and I believe they gained a new appreciation for the beauty that surrounds them. I hope the teachers did as well.
Whenever I come to dead ends or whenever I see something as boring, I look again. I look at dead ends from different perspectives to see if there might be another way to get beyond my obstacle. Or I go back a few steps to see if taking my idea in a slightly different direction might make it work. Perhaps something related to my initial idea might provide my solution.
When I’m bored, I take it as a sign that I’m not looking deeply enough into the matter. Often something boring on the surface can be fascinating when explored in greater detail. Curiosity is the key.