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Journal: Focus Point

Note: This Journal entry was written on September 9, 2001, as I walked on the Old Tokaido. Take a look at that day's Logbook for more.


Comedian Tim Conway once talked about his father's cure for toothache. When Tim had a sore tooth, his father made him wear his little sister's shoes. "That way," he said, "my feet hurt so much I didn't notice my tooth!"

You know what's coming next, don't you?

Yeah: My feet hurt.

But what's funny is, they hurt in different places than they did before. Because of the rain, I'm walking in my tennies instead of my sandals. And the tennies hit in different places. So what was killing me in the sandals doesn't affect me now. I have all new pains.

When the sky opens up on me I forget about my feet entirely. When my camera's slipping off my shoulder I forget about the rain. And so on.

But this focus on one thing can work positively, too. When I'm captivated by the song of a bird, or enthralled by a child's shy smile (I get a lot these days), or entranced by the sanctity of a temple--I forget about all my woes.

Maybe the secret is this: ac-cen-tu-ate the positive, e-li-mi-nate the negative, latch on to the affirmative. If we fill our hearts and minds with what's good around us, there's no room left for what's bad.

This is a good intermediary step until we learn to transcend categories of "good" and "bad" and just see what is. I wish I could learn to say, "My feet hurt. This is neither good nor bad, it just is." But I'm going to have to walk longer before I reach that stage--a lot longer.

Posted September 24, 2019

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