I take a French class every week. Recently, the topic of discussion was superstitions. We talked about Voodoo, Réne Descarte, rationality, culturally specific superstitions (French superstitions vs Turkish superstitions), etc.
I find all religions/faiths and many cultural behaviors to be superstitious, and while I claim to not be superstitious, I often question my claim as superstitious thoughts creep into my head all the time.
When something happens in a pattern, science explains that sometimes — we as humans — attribute these things to something larger than ourselves, like a deity or a devil or any other number of fairies, goblins or leprechauns.
Superstitions claim misfortune might be caused by breaking a mirror, opening an umbrella inside, walking under a ladder, being taught a lesson by a parental god, being tested by a wily devil, not praying the right prayer, or simply failing to knock on wood that one time I said, “I have the best lens choices in the universe!”
Knock on wood.
Over the last couple weeks, I’ve had to replace two lenses. These are literal misfortunes, as I feel like replacements have cost me a literal small fortune.
One of the lenses was — in a general sense — inexpensive (around $600). The other one was for my Hasselblad, which is the rough equivalent of buying property in Trump Tower.
My Hasselblad is medium format camera. Working with a medium format system is like owning a luxury vehicle like a Ferrari. You don’t take the car in for anything without seeing your wallet lighten by many pounds.
I had to buy a battery for it recently and it set me back $375. A battery for my DSLR would cost between $40 and $65, for a generic brand or name brand respectively. There’s no generic option for Hasselblad.
Buying a new 35mm lens — which I use most for interiors or architecture — would be $5200. On eBay, you can find used ones for $1500-$4500. But that’s risky as I found out. I ordered a used one off of eBay and it was dead on arrival. So I had to send it back to the seller, which ties up several thousand dollars until the return is processed.
Because we have a big interiors job next week, I ordered another one. I don’t use credit cards, so I’m basically tying up liquid cash.
Another unfortunate lens mishap happened in my studio. I was using a camera to videotape an update. Here’s a shot below of part of the space. There’s a long strip where I can throw a ball with my dog. We occupy the area behind where my camera is for photography.
I had my dog with me last week. I was washing my car in the shop area and I had a camera setup to record an update for a vLog. The floor was wet and it’s already very slippery.
As I was about to throw the ball to my dog, she was headed straight for my camera on its tripod and her head was facing me as she ran away. “Nooooooo!” I yelled as I sprinted after her. She turned. Started slipping. And I slipped trying to get to the camera, but it went down.
If a camera is a face and a lens its nose, it landed smack dab on its snout. The lens shattered. Fortunately the camera was unharmed (cross fingers and knock on wood).
On the surface, it’s tough not to see these financial blows are not some kind of message from an unseen force attempting to discourage my creativity.
Is this a message from the Lens Gods or the Productivity Gods saying, “We don’t want you to be productive?”
We want to use financial stress as a distraction!
My view, though, is to not let those superstitions to prevent, paralyze, stymie creativity. I’m pressing on. These things happened. They just happened. That’s it. They were accidents. They were and are explainable by natural causes.
My human brain might try to attach mystical explanations or place more emphasis on them because in a pattern … lens lens lens lens + money money money money = stress stress stress stress stress — that somehow is attractive.
There is no amount of prayer, of self sacrifice, of worshiping the unseen that will bring back those lenses nor would it protect my other lenses that still work.
Shit happens. And it’s when I try to attach superstition to natural events that I get caught up in distractions from creative expression.
Well, fuck that.