My son gave me a pink stress ball . An entirely appropriate gift from him… The gel-like stuff is translucent, textured like an orange and looks almost edible. I admit it has a certain addictive quality as I sit and squeeze the thing, staring at the blank page on the screen.
I become aware of being watched and look down to see the small dog, her eyes fixed on the ball in what appears to be consternation. I, after all, am not supposed to play with balls… unless I am throwing them for her. And they should come only in screaming fluorescent shades with a furry texture. I have tried others… they don’t cut it with her. Or at least not until they are the size of a football. Then she’ll make an exception.
On the other hand, you can see it in her eyes… if it is good enough for me….
The infinitesimal movements pass almost unnoticed as she edges closer and closer, her eyes fixed on the ball and the motions of my fingers. You can see the damp nostrils flaring, testing the air. I can’t resist… I read it in her eyes… ““Is it nice, my preciousss? Is it juicy?”
The ball now resides on the little shelf beside the computer screen. The dog, her own ball forgotten, now also apparently resides beside the computer, her eyes fixed on the small object of her current desire, her love affair with the green and furry Ball of Power pushed to the back of her mind as this new ‘toy’ occupies her attention. Every so often she shuffles and sings to it… or to me, demanding the stress ball. She will remain disappointed. She even tried subterfuge, asking to go out and leaping into my chair when I got up to open the door.
I cannot help seeing in her behaviour a perfect illustration of the way we fix our entire focus on whatever captures our attention, to the exclusion of all else, even those things we believe we treasure as Ani does her tennis ball. It can be a useful trait when it manifests as determination or dedication… or a destructive one when it becomes an overweening desire, an addiction, or a ceding of control. It is a double edged sword that can lead us into desperation and fear. Yet it can create much that is beautiful, when our gaze is drawn towards wonder and it is this fixed desire that is behind much of what mankind has achieved as artists, thinkers and spiritual beings.
Perhaps the crux of the matter lies not in the passion we have for the thing that draws us, but in the very nature of what it is that we yearn for and the blinkers we are prepared to wear. To fix our attention on things anchors it to the acquisitive pursuit of them, keeping our noses firmly glued to a path we hope is paved with gold… a path that so often leads to despair. We’ve all come across the one whose ambition makes them ruthless… to whom, it seems, the feelings of others matter little in their pursuit of success in the workplace. Even those who use their passion to fuel the creation of beauty can go so far they lose sight of the world around them.
Yet when we fix our eyes on ideals, creating a positive change and dedicate our passion to understanding with Love, mankind is capable of extraordinary things.