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  • Writer's pictureSurapsari Fujimaru

Switching the Lenses

I love spending time outdoors. I enjoy taking photos of the beauty around me while hiking or just relaxing in my backyard.

Lying on the ground, I see hundreds of leaves dancing over the blue sky with drifting clouds. I then focus on a sparrow on the branch and observe how she flaps her wings and flies away. I keep changing my phone camera setting from full scope to zoom and back to full. Capturing both landscape and details makes my connection with the surrounding environment more intimate. It deepens my understanding of the scenery.

Switching between wide-angle and zoom is not just for photography.

When I get caught by anxiety about the uncertain future, I place a wide-angle lens over my mind’s eye. It reminds me the unpleasant picture I have just visualized is only one of many possibilities, not a definite prediction. I also reach for the wide-angle lens when I hear disturbing news. It lets me look at it in the complexity of reality without emotional charge.

This strategy worked well for me when I felt bombarded with virus pandemic news. Lockdowns, self-quarantine, and isolation disrupted supply chains and slowed down the world economy. On the other hand, the same pandemic restrictions led to the plunge of green gas emissions and cleaner environment. I could have missed the positive side of our hardship if I had kept my zoom lense.

There are times when we need to switch to zoom mode. For example, the news about a war, mass-shooting, or worsening economy may make us nervous. Our bodies might react with fear in subtle ways, such as little tension in the throat and a faint ache in the heart. With a zoom lens, we can detect those signs of stress. They tell us what is going on within us.

Zooming into our inner conditions means fully experiencing our feelings and cultivating sensitivity to notice them. Pema Chodron, the respected Tibetan Buddhist nun, articulates this process in her conversation with Tami Simon of the Sound True.

Switching between wide-angle and zoom is an art. When it becomes a seamless act, we are much stronger, wiser, and calmer. Life gives us ample opportunities to practice this art.

“You have the ability to adjust the lens through which you view the world.” ― Jeffrey G. Duarte


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