A pile of incredibly inspiring books sits next to my reading chair in my living room. Every now and then I take a moment, sit down and pull out one of these books and find the last place I visited it. Rediscovering the magic and joy that fills my heart when I actually take a moment to sit and read.
These moments have been few and far between. It makes me sad. And I've started to realize that my focus, or my ability to stay focused, has been compromised. Compromising a joy that is just one joy among many that I haven't been able to do for a very long time.
I've been feeling this for many months now. Loss of direction, loss of mental clarity, and definitely a huge loss of desire and focus. Even the daydreams that used to spark joy throughout my daily patters, have now fallen silent. When I do try and conjure up a mental landscape, I am met with other thoughts that sneak their way in and my focus diverges onto other things. The mental and physical challenges of these times, with the pandemic and the new world of "working as hard as you can to pay the bills" because of inflation and the cost of living, has placed a heavy toll on so many... and I have fallen into these patterns as well.
I wasn't tending to my own garden, so to speak. I was looking over the fences and hedges to keep track of other people's gardens and mine was drying up and becoming overgrown with weeds.
I still make time to practice yoga, meditation and the little things that spark some moments of clarity in my daily routines. But I am finding that over all, there is a malaise of fog that has clouded my vision of what I want to accomplish and where I want to be in the world. I am so grateful for the practices that I have learned over the course of my lifetime.
Recently I listened to a podcast interview between Piya Chattopadhyay, from CBC's Sunday Magazine, and Johann Hari, author of Stolen Focus: Why You Can't Pay Attention — and How to Think Deeply Again. In this interview Johann describes the ways in which some of the technology is crippling our abilities to find focus these days. He talks about studies and research done on how social media is playing a big part in this as well. I started to realize that I wasn't alone in the feelings I was having and that there indeed were external forces at play, manipulating my focus and curtailing how I absorb and embody the information that I need to ingest to survive each day ...and to let go of the things that do not serve my emotional and mental supports.
To create small moments of joy, even if it is to set time aside in my calendar to read, to cook, to go for a walk on my own, to listen to the sounds of the world around me...and not through the headphones attached or plugged into my ears.
Some of the aspects that I began to shift in my life were to look at the relationships in my life that I was having. Not just personal relationships of lovers, friends, family, colleagues and community, but also my relationship with technology (devices, television/shows/movies, social media) and how I invite or observed some the ways of which information is relayed to me. I attend to so much and so many these days, that the off/down/quiet - time that I do invite for myself, is filling with endless scrolling of the social media on my phone. Even when I thought I had nothing better to do, it felt like I was filling spaces with the need to share or keep up with what other people were doing and thinking. I was losing the capacity to take care of myself and my own feelings, that were becoming darker and more clouded.
I wasn't tending to my own garden, so to speak. I was looking over the fences and hedges to keep track of other people's gardens and mine was drying up and becoming overgrown with weeds. Until the day that I decided to delete my Facebook account and step back from always using social media as a time-crutch, I really hadn't realized how much it was affecting my thoughts and emotional patterns. When I also needed to step back from personal relationships, and this was no small feat and was incredibly painful to do, I began to notice how I had been living out other's lives, walking in their shoes and not walking in my own.
Letting go – it's not as easy as flipping a switch or committing to a resolution. It is a powerful force that begins with a simple intention. For me it was and intention to be more kind and thoughtful with my own thoughts. To do less, not nothing, but less of the things that I surrounded myself with that contributed to some of the fog and haziness. To create small moments of joy, even if it is to set time aside in my calendar to read, to cook, to go for a walk on my own, to listen to the sounds of the world around me ...and not through the headphones attached or plugged into my ears. And to know when it's okay to let go of a relationship with something or someone, and that's okay.
"Here I go again on my own, Goin' down the only road I've ever known..." (Whitesnake - Here I go Again 1987) For some reason this song floated through my thoughts from a past that seems so far away. But isn't that the beginning of daydreaming? Parceling moments from our memory and re-writing the stories around them? I think I'll take some time now and do some reading. Reclaiming my focus and beginning to dream again.