Monday, June 21, 2010
Eagle and Wolf by Pants
Last night I dreamed I'd turned into a surrealist. It's probably no more than I deserve. Just lately I've had a bit of a concentration breakdown. I've had to rethink the way I do things. Not the basic stuff. I still cook on Sunday, wash on Monday and rule the Independent Republic of Barnswalia on Tuesdays, Thursdays and alternate Fridays.
Once I was like that guy in Nick Hornby's About A Boy. I was able to compartmentalise my activities into modules comprising multiples of hours. In an hour-long block I could go for a jog or respond to emails or get in a handy amount of gardening. Two hours was a decent amount of time to play the piano, execute a drawing or create a blog post. I needed half-day blocks at least to write or paint. I use acrylics and you have to paint until you've used up what you've mixed, otherwise it's wasteful.
I used to operate on strict(ish) regimes that at least paid lip service to my physical and mental optimality. Depending on where I was, I would always jog for an hour. If I was staying with Ma Pants in Noosa in the middle of summer, I would get up at 5.30am to do that, otherwise my Reeboks would have melted into the pavement. Here in Larrikin's End, I go out about 11.30am in mid-winter. I'm almost defrosted by then.
Until recently, I was able to switch reasonably effortlessly between disparate tasks. I guess I've been conditioned to work like this since secondary school. I could always get through Maths knowing it was followed by double Music. Sport was considered a reward rather than a punishment when I was at school. I looked forward to hockey practice. It was only an hour. I used to take a weekly tennis lesson. I loved it. I looked forward to it.
I don't know what's going on with me now. I just know that I can't put down a book and pick it up a week later and remember where it is I left off. I know that I can't make notes one day and make sense of them the next in quite the way I used to be able to do. I know that I must make changes to the way I do things, and I will.
I'll still jog every day because I need the exercise and I enjoy looking at the birds and fishes, but I've decided to ditch the modular approach. Instead, I'm devoting whole days to whatever needs a whole day's concentration. I'm not saying I haven't worked this way before. When I've been absolutely absorbed in a project, I've hardly drawn breath. I'm saying I can't shift focus like I've been able to do in the past.
What am I talking about? I've no idea. The eagle has landed on the wolf and it wasn't pretty.