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[personal profile] flexagon
Sigh. I was so looking forward to reading Capture. While I still buy its Big Idea (the dynamic of minds getting stuck on things is shared among many mental woes), the book first collapsed under the weight of too many anecdotes and then failed to deliver on practical insights. I appreciated the book's final message, on the possibility of change through "becoming aware of the ways in which we deploy our attention" and working to actively shape these. However, I turned the last page expecting to find a chapter or two of techniques to use to that end, and was surprised and disappointed to already have reached the footnotes.

At any rate, I'm no stranger to the phenomenon of "brain being stuck on a thing" and feeling powerless to shift my attention. Crushes and limerence are like this, of course, but here are some others that come to mind immediately:

MIT: what kind of little kid reads about a certain college at the age of seven and decides to go there, and devotes her life pretty singlemindedly to getting there for the next 9 or 10 years? This little kid! In case you're curious, I read an article in Reader's Digest about the hackers there (roof and tunnel style hacking, not computers); I identified with that nonharmful sneaky playfulness just as I was attracted to the article's message about MIT being "the best" engineering school. I was caught! I look back in some horror at how badly this could have bitten me, if I hadn't in fact gotten in. I did, though, and I'm sure that my obsession made it easier for me to pick up and move across the country, and many good things ensued. I never broke out of this capture, just achieved the thing.

Four-Leaf: the last bad-spiral kind of capture I had was definitely [personal profile] norwoodbridge's ex-girlfriend. The reasons why are still unclear, but surely she was salient (appearing suddenly, and seeming like a threat) in an area of my life that I cared about. Why her approach to life, which was different from mine, became a subject of my almost constant thoughts is less clear. That was all very bad, and combined with other dynamics that were also going on, which was worse. I did break out of this one eventually, after I realized that my brain being stuck was itself a problem and, in desperation, agreed to (or proposed) just not talking about her for a full month. Talking less allowed me to think less, and a few weeks later the stimulus went away.

The press handstand: AHAHAHHAHA fuck. Still mightily in the grip of this one. I'm not even completely sure when this hit -- could it have been 2006-ish, when [personal profile] justplainuniverse did one in front of me in a park in Philadelphia? I don't think it was earlier and it couldn't have been much later. I also remember being so shocked that I said something REALLY stupid, along the lines of "zomg, if I can't do that in a year I'll want to kill myself" and immediately regretted my wording. So I think there was a strong feeling there, I was trying to make a strong statement of desire/intent whatever I actually said, and that might have been the capture moment. I've definitely gotten attached to handbalancing overall in the meantime, but the initial goal remains, and I've wondered many times whether it's done me more harm than good. Overly ambitious goals can hurt a person, and -- starting where I was starting -- that was too ambitious. No more athletic goals of that sort for me, I think. It's comforting that the splits, too, took me about ten years, and I got that... but still. Stupid freaking brain.

(I wrote all that on Thursday and am just posting it now.)
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