Watch Yourself

I watch the Weather Channel TV shows Highway Thru Hell and Heavy Rescue 401 and I hear a lot of the towing guys say “Watch yourself!” Often, they say this as they’re about to pull a jack knifed semi out of a ditch. Sometimes a rigging line breaks and a large hook will snap back at lightning speed, which can take your head off, even if you are watching out for it.

I notice many of the older tow crew members are now saying while grinning at the camera things like, “I think it’s really important to teach the younger generation the things I know because I’m not going to be doing this forever, and I’d like to retire sometime in the near future and let somebody else watch out for flying snatch blocks and tow hooks which can take your head off, which would not necessarily be painful because you might die instantaneously, but then there are those other inconvenient consequences like funerals and insufficient life insurance policies with bizarre exclusion clauses disallowing benefit payouts to grieving widows and children because of deaths caused by non-Underwriters Laboratories certified flying snatch blocks and tow hooks, unpaid mortgages and loans for things like exorbitantly expensive snatch blocks, tow hooks, not to mention multi-ton wreckers and rotators.”

Anyway, the expression “Watch Yourself” could also figuratively mean being mindful. Mindfulness meditation has taught me to notice more about what’s going on inside and outside my head.

I do daily sitting meditation, although I may miss a day here and there. And by sitting, I want to make it abundantly clear that I don’t assume the lotus position. My joints are stiff enough that, when I try to stand up, they might have enough spring steel energy stored to whip loose, similar to flying snatch blocks and tow hooks.

While I’m sitting, I do a lot of thinking. By the way, it’s not a mistake to think and feel a lot of different thoughts and emotions during mindfulness sessions. That’s one of several myths about mindfulness. It’s not mandatory or even possible to shut off your yammering mind. I can choose to focus my attention on it or not.

If I try to shut my internal talk off for any length of time, it’s like gripping a slippery valve. Sooner rather than later, my grip slips and thoughts explode like flying snatch blocks and tow hooks. I watch myself and I notice when I’m thinking my hands get tense. As soon as I notice that, my hands relax and I focus on breathing—or maybe it’s the other way around.

Watch yourself.

Author: James Amos

I'm a retired consult-liaison psychiatrist. I navigated the path in a phased retirement program through the hospital where I was employed. I was fully retired as of June 30, 2020. This blog chronicles my journey.

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