Being Indistractable

spiral-stairsWe live in a world of distraction (an obvious observation). It is horrible (my opinion), but only because it is increasingly hard to focus and direct our attention. I struggle on a regular basis to find the mental quiet needed to paint. Every person, every device, every responsibility, every possession (okay, I’m going overboard) demands bits of our attention. Your day can quite easily NEVER feel like your own. It’s reasonable to want something else.

We place a significant amount of energy into avoiding concentration. As an example, no matter how brief I make it, my morning meditation elicits an out-sized protest from my ego. It doesn’t want to participate. More pointedly, it doesn’t want to BEGIN the activity. Once I start, I’m usually good. Same with exercise. Same with beginning an especially concentration-heavy work task. Same with painting. The list goes on and on for me…assuming it does for you as well.

This article titled The Most Important Skill of the Future is Being Indistractable speaks to the future importance for the skill of being laser-focused. The author could have called this article The Art of Attention. In fact, Elena Brower wrote a beautiful book with that title that explores that subject quite well via a meditation and yoga practice.

Well that future is NOW.

A morning meditation practice, a mid-day yoga break, a day scheduled with activities that get you closer to important goals are all helpful pieces to solving our distraction conundrum. Limiting unplanned internet moments is also imperative, the ones where you “just take a peek” at Facebook or look up some previously unimportant recipe and then 45 minutes later you’ve completely forgotten what brought you onto the web in the first place. The other key is STOPPING when your allotted activity is complete. Don’t force yourself to work longer on a task, honor your committment to begin and end tasks when you scheduled them.

When will we get to go-go-go again?

empty-airport-gate As a global society we are accustomed to running: running far, running fast, running with others, running roughshod over others, and frankly running roughshod over ourselves. All that running doesn’t work that well (the latter two really never work), and this becomes painfully obvious when a pandemic is threatening the established order of life. When we’re busy, we have an excuse for ignoring the obvious problems that surround us. Busi-ness trumps everything. With all this free-time, it becomes harder to ignore the reflection of the values being projected back in the mirror, especially if they aren’t as pretty as our manicured lawn, our curated Instagram feed, or the fabricated story of self we have running through our head. I know. We’re all doing our best, me too. But there is definitely more to life than “doing our best.”

We’ve been granted a moment of pause, and you can choose how you would like to use it. It could be used to: carry on, maintain, perpetuate, hunker down, look outside and wait for things to return to normal. Or, it could be used to: interrupt, stop, look inside, rethink (more importantly, re-feel), listen to ourselves and others, transform, grow, reconnect, look inside again and ask how we can be of service to ourselves and by extension our world.

I believe this moment is asking us all to look within and listen. What do you hear? If you don’t like it, you can change it. If you don’t know how, you can figure it out by asking someone for help. If you don’t want to, then you are likely feeling helpless and that is a horrible feeling (I’ve been there too). The world is changing. Are you going to change with it?

Update: This April 10th article from Medium optimistically expands upon the sentiments expressed in this post. Enjoy! Prepare for the Ultimate Gaslighting

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Choleric Melancholic

Acrylic Abstract Painting White

Acrylic & Pencil on Canvas, 40″x30″x1.5″ (Sold to Private Collector)

The following is an excerpt from “Transformatique” a made for stage interdisciplinary performance piece that I collaborated on with Greg Serebuoh.

I sat down in the guest chair at her desk and patiently waited for her to greet me. Her booming voice spoke intentionally into the receiver of her outdated landline telephone, “Hun, you have to…share yourself with him, just be great with him, and it will alllll wooork out! {she happily and emphatically drew} You know who to be. {a pause as she listened to the person on the phone} Uh huh, sure…GOOD, GOOD…yes…now make the call! Okay, I love you!”

My heart sped up in synchrony with her deliberate yet gentle placement of the phone back in its cradle. And as she turned…

[Ohhell Idon’teven knowwheretobegin, what am I here for. Does thisshit ever stop, do I get a reprieve from these thoughts?]

She spun around in her chair and turned on that smile, that tractor beam of an expression – peering over her slight glasses – and in the vacuum of her presence my problems, my concerns and my fear began to vanish. Regardless, she had sucked them all up, whisked them away, absorbed them, as if there was no way possible for them to escape the grandiosity of whom she knew I was, or at least of whom she knew I was capable of being.

I began vomiting words of despair, of frustration, of resignation, “I don’t understand why this monologue in my head is so nasty all the time. It just says the most horrible things about myself and about others. I hate this person, I can’t stand that person, I’m never happy with my accomplishments and am angry with myself, I’m ugly, and this person just pushed me on the subway on my way here and now it’s attacking them.” She just smiled kindly and emphatically nodded as I innocently asked her, “When is it going to stop?”

Her deep chuckle of recognition almost knocked me over, as she looked lovingly, warmly and then brassily said to me, “HON, oh that’s never gonna stop! You’re adorable, you know the only difference between you and me is that I’ve been doing this for 20 years.”

I gulped and looked at her in mild horror as I thought – Oh god! I was calm yet terrified at the prospect of dealing with these nasty thoughts for the rest of my life.

She continued with her characteristic nod punctuated by profoundly wise statements of encouragement and love, “You just need to go make a difference with someone ELSE. Everything is gonna work out.”

Her immense personality matched only by the size of her love for humanity, she could part the Red Sea if she desired. However, her gift was imminently more impressive, as I sat at her desk and experienced it firsthand, a woman who could enkindle being in another, which occurred solely by the power of the way she listened to others.