Attention

August 11, 2011 § Leave a comment

You might be forgiven for thinking that I’ve nothing to say here. It’s not the case. There’s been a hell of a lot going on here. Not in a dramatic way, more of a slowly building and reaching saturation point way.

That first sentence, for example, sat here in a draft for over 24 hours while I gave in, went for a run, packed for the weekend and slept.

With so much going on, everything is spread a bit thin. While working part-time, finishing my dissertation and looking for a job are manageable in theory, the added extras of day-to-day self-care and actively trying to retrain my brain add an extra kick to every day’s to do list. These are all things that I want, so hard, to do and do well. It’s not a case of motivation, more one of not having superhuman attention or energy resources.

With so much swirling about, there’s something to be said for reconsidering where your attention is. I’ve been reading a lot from Gwen Bell lately, and her new blog is more resonant than ever. Being present in what you do matters.

The noise that the disorder creates is one of the worst things for me. My attention span is shot. Wasted, really. Earlier this year, I couldn’t sit still for a minute, afraid that if I wasn’t being active, or at least actively distracted, all hell would break loose. For a while, it did. And this anxiety waned, as it is prone to do, and I got back to doing some more of the things I needed to being doing. Attention is still a struggle. After this last bout of unrest, some things seem destined to stay changed. I have been used to this process of ups and downs for just about as long as I can recall. But, as I approach my 25th year, some things seem not to be returning to ‘normal’ after the last downturn. My body is one, which is difficult enough, but my mind also feels changed.

As I have written before, part of the upturn is a crazy re-ignition of fire and a desire to work and change and do do do, which is pretty difficult to reign in. Writing helps though, this much I’m learning.

In trying to harness some of this goodness, attention is fast demonstrating itself to be the key. Great things can be accomplished if only I can concentrate on what needs it. Whether it be finishing the degree, finding work, progress in general or even relaxation. Apparently that takes even more effort.

Yesterday I had to pay a quick trip to the doctors for a couple of unrelated checks. What should have been a short visit disintegrated into an hour spent trying to arrange appointments. If there’s a sure-fire way to set off anxiety, it’s having things so out of control. Familiar responses flooded in as I walked home. Restriction, counting, numbers. All the usuals. Awareness kicked in shortly after. These are distractions. These are limitations. These are things which stop me from making progress.

This is not my battle today.

I don’t mean to imply that everything is a battle here, but it is what it is. There’s a lot to be done. Becoming attentive of the distractions that hold me back is not helping me accomplish anything. The battle is what it is. It’s about time and writing enough and well enough. It’s not the anxious reactions to that.

Suddenly, I found myself a new mantra, to bring me back to the present.

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