It’s really fascinating to observe how long my mind can dwell on certain sticky thoughts. At this particular moment, I'm fixated on how my new book acquired a small tear in the upper left corner of its cover — a cover I'm quite fond of, by the way. But honestly, it’s such an inconsequential thing. Negligible, really. Yet, my mind involuntarily keeps revisiting this mishap, an all too familiar scenario of adhesive thoughts clinging like those pesky tar spots on the bottom of your feet after a walk on LA beaches.
Speaking of LA beaches, I remember a particularly clingy thought-spot that was quite hard to shake off.
I had bought my brand new camera, along with a new zoom lens, both of which made me very happy and provided that familiar, temporary high of “new equipment” motivation. I was ready to be making pro videos both for myself and the company I had just started working for. On my first shoot for them, we went out to Venice Beach to capture some “active” shots for a Mother’s Day campaign. It was a particularly windy day, and as the hours rolled on, the gaining winds were gradually picking up. For our final scene, we decided to go closer towards the ocean, deep into the beach, surrounded by a sandy landscape. The wind began to get more aggressive, whipping us with sandy needles. Slapping us to and fro. I even had to wrap my head in a t-shirt to be able to gain some sort of shelter and be able to frame ‘the subject’, who herself wasn’t spared from the sand-storm's wrath. But our model was a trooper, my assistant was a trooper — we were all, for lack of a better word, storm-troopers (queue Star Wars music) — okay, look, there definitely were better words, I was just lacking imagination and a tasteful sense of humor ok?
We got the shots, wrapped things up, said our goodbyes and got in the car, finally catching a break from the berating elements. As my mind settled, I began to tend to my camera, getting it ready for travel… which is when I realized… my brand new camera, and my brand new lens had both been victims of sandy laceration, infiltrated by the devilish pricks. My lens rattled like a sad, mediocre maraca — “the sensor! Check the Sensor!” I did… and to my dismay, it had also suffered microscopic wounds which, in “camera-sensor-world” means crippling gashes. At least 4 pixels had been killed. I attempted all I could to try to revive these agents of light: Blew air, used special sensor cleaning kit stuff… nothing. The pixels just laid there, lifeless, dark…
Anyway… I planned to send it to camera medics (which, by the way, I never actually did hahaha) but where I want to bring our attention to in this story, however, is the haunting thoughts that would not let off for the following days to come. It's fascinating! The event was over, and while I believe in allowing space for grief and sadness, the incessant, obsessive thoughts that followed (basically triggering my OCD) weren’t just useless and unpleasant, they were honestly hindering. What a waste of my most precious resource: attention. But it was very interesting to observe how, like iron attracted to some sort of freak super-magnet, these thoughts (accompanied by the parade of wonderfully frustrating emotions) would keep coming up.
I just watched…
It really is so astounding how little agency we have over our thoughts. Like, logically, I had already understood the futility of ruminating on how annoying it was that my brand new camera had gotten sand in the sensor! Ugh! — okay… then what? You either do something about it or you don’t. But these harassing thoughts won’t be of much further use… “yes, yes, I know that!” — ah, yet here they come again!
So, this has happened on multiple occasions, too many to recall, and all to basically the same effect… They are just like blood-thirsty mosquitoes, or hungry flies that won’t stop diving towards your pancakes! UGH Leave me alone!
Yet… there is a silver lining, a way to put these buzzing thoughts to work for us. Since they are so annoying, it’s easy to notice them, so they make great target practice for observing, and letting go. For enacting “Beginner’s Mind” — not to mention, practicing non-attachment, and mementos of the ephemeral nature of existence and all that good stuff — They're vivid reminders of our unconscious drives and serve as gauges of progress in our journey to greater equanimity. And I guess an interesting upshot is this approach could even extend to dealing with actual mosquitoes and flies? Though I guess those are one level up, since they are made of matter, and at least one of them could actually kill you?
What's the latest pesky thought you've been fixated on?
Stay centered my friends,