Chasing Flies / by Michelle Cowan

I’m chasing a fly. Stupid fly, buzzing and rustling my blinds and spreading its who-knows-what germs all around. That tiny hole in my window screen gave him just the space he needed to break in. Seriously, get lost!

Sometimes, in life, I feel like I’m chasing flies. Little annoyances that aren’t really doing anything to hurt me somehow attract my complete focus. I can ignore them for a while, but before I know it, I can hear nothing but their buzzing. At that point, nothing else matters but swatting the fly or shooing it out the door.

I stop doing whatever task I’m involved with to stand up and hunt down the fly. Is this really a good thing? Would life be better if I could sustain focus on one goal at a time? Are all the germs or bad things I imagine these annoyances are bringing not really so dangerous as I imagine? Perhaps the fly would go away on its own if I simply ignored it and continued the task at hand.

I get frustrated when little things take up more of my time than necessary. Chasing down the fly seems like a simple enough task, especially if I’m in an enclosed place. Surely it won’t take more than a minute or two to swat it or at least get it out the open door. But it always takes longer. The creature eludes me; I smack it with a notebook, and somehow it flies away, unscathed. The fly sucks the time away.

I don’t want these trivial tasks or bothers to consume my days and preoccupy my mind. This means learning to let thoughts come and go as they may without clinging to them, without letting them penetrate the forefront of my thoughts when I want to focus on something else.

Meditation helps with this practice immensely. If I can sit for fifteen or twenty minutes and think a million thoughts without acting on them during a meditation session, I can do it when trying to blog or work or write a song.

This also means trusting myself to remember those “important” thoughts when I do have the time or mental space to do so. If I am working on a particular task, I don’t have to immediately stand up and pay my bills or do the laundry just because a thought that I should do those things floats by. I can remind myself of what I’m working on now and trust that I will accomplish to-dos that need to be done at a later time. I can trust myself to remember and follow through later.

Trust in myself is key. If I don’t trust myself to do things that need to be done, I’ll spend all day chasing flies instead of sitting down and doing work I am truly passionate about. Distractions need not become full-time occupations.

I must learn that I can choose not to act on obsessive thoughts and that I can trust myself to succeed at this life thing. I can let the flies buzz until I’m finished writing/playing/preparing; then, if they are still around, I’ll have plenty of time to shoo them out the door.