The Lens Grease Life

Beware the barrenness of a busy life. -Socrates

On a film set, it is the role of the first assistant cameraman to mark the focus points on the barrel of a lens for each take. He/she uses a grease-based pencil (chinograph) which is easily removed and remarked. With precision they cue the barrel to the first mark. Set falls quiet. Inhale. Action.

Regardless of the commotion in front of, beside and behind the lens, the 1stACs hands dance with artistic rhythm, spinning the focus wheel from one mark to the next. Their sole focus is to align two small white grease lines at the ideal time, and then slide the barrel on to its next destination.

Today marks three months straight on the road for me, (at the end of an amazing year of travel). It’s been an adventurous three months – not having slept in the same bed more than seven nights in a row, with these beds scattered across six countries, and in four states of Australia.

It’s the good life. I’ve an outgoing expense of $150 a month for my phone – and that’s it. The rest of my world is organized, managed, and paid for. I know, nailing the bach life with NFA, (no fixed address).

In return, I do my job. I hit my mark, linger until the action plays out, and then spin, finding focus somewhere else – a new town, a new city, a new country. The marks are rubbed, reset, and the world around me is called to life again.

It’s only in reading a book of no relevance to all of this that I realized what happens emotionally when I live like this. I’ll have to paraphrase as I left the book in a hotel after only reading 45 pages, (wasn’t focused there I guess).

According to this book, emotional sensitivity impacts your ability to make concise decisions. If you know how you want to feel, you make decisions that reinforce your emotions. In the same regard, people who are emotionally disconnected are more likely to make poor life decisions and develop counterproductive addictions, because of the lack of care for themselves and those around.

And so I filtered my own life through this theory, and realized that every time the barrel spins involuntarily, I ‘bubble’ the emotions of my immediate world and switch off the rest. It all fades; the feelings of connectedness and care for friends and family not directly affected by any decision I make. It’s a light switch that illuminates a pool of care for people; based on their proximity to the ‘set’ I’m focused on.

It’s not as if the love and care for people not directly associated with me disappears, but as a mechanism for emotional survival, I’ve had to learn to switch and separate as life changes.

This is the beauty of travel as a camera operator; you’re constantly embedded and re-embedded in a new crew, a new location, and a new culture, and usually you’re the closest person to the most fascinating people, animals and places on the planet. What I’m learning is that it’s easy to be too encapsulated by it all – and that when chance permits, some of the most fascinating people are in the most comforting place you’ll find – Home.

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