I’ve been attempting to rally from distraction and inattention for a while, but I confess to a degree of self-pity when it comes to moving things forward in my life. That isn’t to say that a little self-pity isn’t justified given my workplace and the current situation there. On the other hand, it’s enlightening to just throw your hands up and say “Whatever happens, happens.” and move yourself forward.
Sickness: The last thing I wrote about was being sick and how that saps, depletes, exhaust and empties all of the physical and psychological reserves. It has been ten long days of being sick and being a parent to a 4.5 year old, a spouse, and trying to get day-to-day life done. It is as terrible as it sounds. For both me and my spouse. She has it as well, and she gets the heavier burden of responsibility of parenting. I make up for it by working full time and doing my full share of regular housework (trust me, there’s not an unbalance of housework put on her in our household since I’m the once that is more bothered by messiness and dirtiness – that puts the burden on me just out of sheer desire to not have my brain twitching at me about it while I am home). My kid has fared the worst because she hasn’t been sick and she is 4.5 and has all the energy a 4.5 year old has. i.e. an infinite amount. She has been frustrated, but patient. Still, being sick requires extra rest, including extra sleep, and making any efforts to wake up early during January when you’re sick is like trying to drink cement through a straw. Even worse for myself is that in the moments of my body feeling even slightly better my mind takes it upon itself to beret me for not using the burst of time to get more organized, even though I’m having to catch up on daily life. Ones own mind can sometimes be the worst enemy and least understanding about reality. It’s why I’ve been coming here to write, to let my mind know that I’m not slacking at all, but trying to come to an agreement on how I can balance all of the things in my life.
Chaos: Sickness breeds chaos when you live with a kid. Everything falls behind when your energy and will fail you simply because all of it is being channeled into survival and recovery. Rallying from chaos is daunting, as every organizing book and guru will tell you. You need to start with something small and set priorities, but a week behind even trying to get started at reclaiming those efforts to begin with feels more defeat than setback. Chaos seems less like a dust bunny you have to sweep away or vacuum up and more like a real demon waiting for you to open the door so it can silently attach itself to your back and whisper bitter everythings into your ear. The only way I can think of rallying from chaos is to give myself an inch of organizing in the morning. Not a lot. A few minutes here to look through the piled up mail. A few minutes to read over some Evernote saved articles from the last year on focus and inspiration. Just a taste of something organized, ordered and positive to remind myself that when there’s chaos and you want order, you’re fighting against the natural inclination of the universe itself. Be forgiving and gentle with yourself when you start pulling the demon off your back.
Distraction: This is the real beast of burden when you start feeling sick and when you are sick. You don’t want to be sick and when you are sick you don’t want to just focus on that. You specifically want something, anything to distract you from it and you’ll dart around like a hummingbird looking for short-term distractions or long-term non-productive distractions. Even worse, distraction as an activity is itself incredibly habit forming. It’s how Facebook has exploded to being the most active social network on the planet. It’s built on distraction from everything but it. It notifies via distraction. It draws you in from the world around you as a distraction under the guise that it’s simply connecting you to the real world network of friends and family in your life. But it’s a bit insidious while certainly serving as a genuine connecting tissue for a lot of friends and family. I’m not even sure how I’m going fight distraction myself. I’ve pulled away from Facebook by about 98%, but Twitter is still pinging my brain with its notification system as well and I’m trying to determine exactly how to use it without it just becoming Facebook 2.0 level of distraction for me. I may not be able to.
Inattention: Distraction’s warped offspring is probably my most difficult self inflicted psychological damage that I am working on overcoming. Inattention derives, for me, from distraction. Distraction for me is the want of something new to keep me away from more serious thoughts and responsibilities I need to face and work on. Inattention blossoms with distractions such as Facebook and Twitter because you feel tricked into thinking you’re focused on something, which you are, but the whole thing is managed distraction leading you to a series of constant shifting attention levels resulting into what I can only describe as a self-inflicted inattention wound that you either just let fester or which you try to heal through active separation.
Now comes the time to rally. To take the baby steps to organize and renew my energy and renew my focus. And it’s hard. Even when being sick starts to creep away, the tasks I have before me in all parts of my life seem fairly daunting. But it is heartening to know that this is everyone’s burden as well. We all have to face up to the crappier parts of regular life that we think are boring and take time away from things we enjoy. Some people even end up enjoying those things that are the responsibilities. I’m not sure I can get to that point, but I do hope that I can get to the point where it at least feels rewarding to do those things and to complete them. Rewarding inside not just outside.
The next step is to start small with a plan. A plan to create a small Focus Project with a few primary goals to achieve over the next year. I was successful in some parts of last year’s focus project, but there were failures as well. Some things were simply never addressed. I learned a lot from that. Focus Projects should be considered carefully for what goals need accomplished. Written goals are the best, of course, and the goals that failed last year lacked clarity and well-written goals. Goals need priorities based on life needs and desires. Goals should be team determined in a family, which although difficult to involve a 4.5 year old, I want to try and determine what she enjoys in life and make sure we have that as well as the things she needs for her overall general well-being. I don’t think this year will be easy at all. It might be really hard depending on what’s coming up. But I think my family and myself all want things to be better and different than they have been, and setting out on a focus project for changes is a good start.