Recently, I had an emergency root canal. During the procedure, they handed me a small squeezy ball with an emblem of the world on it in relief. It was not soft and spongy but rather firm, though I could still squeeze it some. When I found it difficult to concentrate because of the drilling or when I felt I was choking, though I was not, I found myself more attuned to squeezing the ball or turning it over and over in my hand. The ball helped me focus on something else while going through an uncomfortable procedure.
I’ve always had a fondness for a talisman, particularly rocks. I like worry stones, a smooth rock that I can rub, holding it in my pocket or out on the table. A shiny coin will do as well, or a piece of string long enough to tie into a bowline.
In fantasy video games, characters will often have a slot for a focus device that helps them have energy in one part of their being. That device could be an amulet or talisman, a small stone or piece of jewelry. It’s not big and it’s not a weapon per se, but an object built around the need for concentration to channel some energy or power.
Isn’t that really what focus is? Channeled energy or power?
Many people think today’s inhabitants lack focus, that they have the attention span of a goldfish (a “fact” that has been disputed and proved wrong, by the way). I do think that cell phone lives and the world of Social Media have changed our abilities to stay on track with anyone task. But so has the internet and the 24-hour news cycle. We jump from idea to idea so quickly, even in our exercise routines, cycling through activity after activity, working this muscle group and then switching to that one.
But our ability to focus is just training. When is the last time you sat down to read a book all the way through? That seems like a luxury of time that so many of us don’t have anymore. But what are you doing during the pandemic? Netflix stocks are up. Are your own stocks of reading and imagination up? My profession is heavily involved in reading and writing, of course. Even I have fluctuated through time with reading. I’ve had periods in which I’ve read less and when I get back to it, I find it takes me a little time to get a rhythm back to be able to focus on a book. But I’m always pleasantly surprised and energized when I do.
The trick, of course, is to learn to maintain focus for a period of time and then switch gears to something else. Today, I’m trying the pomodoro technique for my writing time, to see if that gives me the focus needed to work through some more difficult material.
Discover prompts has helped me to keep a solid routine of writing, even if I did get behind and have to make up the days. But I can see that I will make my goal this month. This blog will change focus, too. It’s time to get serious about memoir blogging. Oh do I have stories to tell.
I see many of you reading my blog, and I thank you for that. I also write on Medium.com. I’ll make a post here to share links to my Medium stories. But if you would like, please click the button to the right to sign up for email notification of my stories.