I’m not a fast reader, never have been. On top of that I need the environment to be just right for me to concentrate. Plop me down in a beach chair under an umbrella with that incomparable sound of the ocean waves in the background, and I can rip through a novel in record time–UNTIL the umbrella next to me gets rented to a couple loud talkers, the family with the small children, or someone wanting to share their radio music with everyone along the beachfront. Forget it, reading time is then over. I will be stuck on the same page rereading the same sentence until either they or I leave.
Distraction and I don’t get along, but we often accompany one another. Distraction likes to send me off course to see how long it can take me to remember what course I was on in the first place. Distraction likes to hide behind the door of the room I’ve just entered, silently giggling and watching me wonder why I walked in there. Distraction jeers as I return to my previous location empty handed but retreats when I reenter with a renewed focus to conquer that original task triumphantly.
Distractions are inevitable, so we have to learn to get along with each other. Last week I found a small picture frame and decided that I would type out the word FOCUS to put inside it. I put the frame on my desk. I’ve just been too distracted to type the word, so for now it sits empty beside the phone and the calendar. I tried to convince myself that its being bare had significance, like an open-ended question or an unused artist’s canvas, full of possibilities. Odd thing is that when I look at the blank frame, I instantly think FOCUS, so I guess it’s working after all.
My oldest sister tells me I’m not good at planning. She is a planning rock star. I tell her that I’m a member of the Linear Sequential Thinkers of America–that is, I’ll get to it when its time comes or somewhere really close to it. I figure I don’t need to have every detail worked out ahead of time for events in the future when so many things need to be handled before then. I’ll get to them, but first things first. That’s focusing, isn’t it?
So tonight’s focus is on reading. I want to finish the novel, Taking Lottie Home by Terry Kay by tomorrow, because I’m attending a writing workshop lead by him tomorrow afternoon. The environment is right. The house is quiet. The dog’s breathing is taking the place of the ocean waves. No one has rented an umbrella next to me in my family room, and the only music I might hear will be my son playing his guitar. That’s music to my ears. No distractions, no excuses, time to read.
God, Thank you for the peaceful quiet moments and the ability to prioritize our lives.