It seems to be an impossibility. Or at least improbable. Though it is something I strive for.
I’m speaking not of that elusive ability to multi-task, though I work at that as well. What I’m referring to is my seeming inability to just do one thing and get it finished before I move on to whatever is next. I’m not even sure what it stems from. Is it as simple as the electronic age’s brain need and drive for constant distraction? Not that this is something really simple, but at least it’s understandable given that we are bombarded with noise and light and colour and advertising nearly all the time. Or is it something more insidious, a learned quality of low level personal interference that keeps me from being too good, too accomplished at anything in particular because of years of self-deprecation and low self-esteem.
I don’t know if anyone else does things like this (probably) or if anyone has discovered the solution to stopping it (I’m sure there’s a site with a list of 10 things to keep yourself focused, hell, I’m sure there’s a hundred sites with lists like that) or even if that (those) person’s solutions would in any way help me. But here it is. I can’t stop doing things, even though I rarely get the satisfaction of finishing them. I know this about myself and still..
Here’s the brain stuff, the internal external activities.
At the moment, I’m enrolled in an online course on marine science (specifically megafauna) and conservation, a genealogy project which has been pretty fruitful so far (except for the frustratingly huge number of people named James, John, George, Mary and Jane I’m related to, which makes it incredibly difficult to determine if I”m looking at the right person), a personal letter writing campaign to convince the Faroe Islands (Norway), Iceland (where I would like to live one day) and Japan(whose culture in many other aspects I find delightful) to stop whaling and dolphin drives, learning French (Italian is next), reading the Altered Carbon trilogy (it’s awesome)among other books, writing and rewriting no less than 3 articles on film (I’ve never written an actual article before, it’s harder than I thought but I’m pretty sure I’m overthinking it like crazy and I’m not even sure he still needs writers) for a film blog I enjoy and would love to contribute to, making plans to finally finish the travel writing course my sister so graciously signed me up for as a birthday present (I’m ashamed to say) 3 years ago, trying to finish an online songwriting course I enrolled in 2 years ago, learning to draw (stick people are my forte) from yet another course and learning to code because (goddamnit!) I don’t spend enough time on the computer.
That’s not including the online permaculture course I haven’t started yet, amidst other things I’ve bookmarked for those rainy (or frigid February) days when doing something other than staring at a computer just doesn’t seem fun. Jeez, I spend a lot of time on this thing.
There are all things I’m doing while living in the okanagan with my aunt over the winter because our lives at the moment are such that it’s best if I’m around, available and not working. Would I be doing all of this stuff if I was working a regular job? Maybe, but I’d have less time to do them so would (maybe) find it easier to concentrate on one at a time.
But one at a time isn’t really what I’m good at. I have this uncanny habit of thinking of something I’m going to do and rather than finishing what I’m doing and moving on to it, I’ll stop what I’m doing and start to do the next thing.
I’m brushing my teeth. I’m thinking about grocery shopping the next day, which leads me to thinking about the bananas in the freezer, which makes me think about making some bread and I find that I’ve put down the toothbrush and I’m heading to the kitchen to get the bananas out to start baking. I’ll then wander over and start playing the piano while they thaw, until I decide it’s now too late to start baking and I’ll go and write something or learn some french or practice guitar and end up watching a movie instead. I never finished brushing my teeth.
I’ll be putting on my shoes. I’ve got one on and I’m thinking about driving into town, which starts me wondering where my mp3 player is because I’ll want to have music and so I will (one shoe on, one off) go and pick up my bag, wondering if it’s in there, where I’ll find the book I’ve been reading, which will distract me until I have to leave very suddenly, having lost track of time and will end up being 15 minutes late, rather than 10 early like I would have been if I’d just put the damn shoe on and walked out the door.
I’m watching a lecture on the origins of marine megafauna and it’s interesting, but a little dry. I think I’ll just open facebook in another window and check to see if the cove is blue today. Suddenly I’m doing a quiz to find out which Bronte sisters’ period drama tea flavour I would be depending on which sushi roll I most identify with. What?
Honestly I didn’t think I was even remotely interested in a quiz some random person (whose job it is to create this quiz and why are you doing this to the world??) came up with, though obviously I would be earl grey, hot. Yet I will keep do the quiz more than once if I have to, if only to ensure that this is the identity I get (Jasmine? Seriously? I’m totally Earl Grey!) because even with all of the interesting things I’ve decided I could spend my time on, this is where I end up.
I kind of know why. It’s non-committal and quick and might on some level validate something I feel like I know about myself. But it’s still impeding my ability to actually get anything done. It feels very hypocritical since I spend a lot of time railing against the mediocrity mandate that most television appears to perpetuate while embracing (to a degree) for the distraction circus that is cat videos, personality quizzes and other guilty pleasures of the interwebs.
This feels very much like the confession of a self described dilettante who is searching for what exactly? A mode of expression, a wealth of knowledge, a wordly experience from the other side of a laptop in the comfort of an office that doesn’t have a desk. Would it be different if I had a desk? I certainly go on about that particular piece of furniture often enough. It seems to have become the focal point of my long standing if I have…then I will…
Will completing the online marine science and conservation course appease my frustration that I’m not on a boat giving Japanese whalers the raspberry in the hope that spitty tongue communications will enable them to understand that killing whales for meat that no one wants to eat anymore is wrong?
Will learning to code, which makes a certain part of my brains sigh with orgasmic splendor at the order of it, make me feel justified for the amount of time I spend on my computer when I could be playing the piano or going for a walk?
Will learning French- actually no. In my mind, learning languages is one of the best things I can apply my brain to doing. No justification needed there.
Will learning to draw really make me feel more accomplished as a human being? Would I get as much satisfaction creating happy little trees as I do watching and listening to Bob Ross do it? Seriously, that guy is awesome. He’s like a talking soporific that paints well.
Am I trying to fill my life with things because it’s better than the alternative? Have I just forgotten how to do one thing at a time and so must try everything not be to good at any one of them, but because I have a fear that if there is some kind of mad max type apocalypse in my time I’ll be useless unless there are practical things I can do? On that note, I remember seeing the Handmaid’s tale when I was young and being horrified that they tested for fertility, taking women who weren’t away to some unknowable but likely horrific fate. I remember thinking if I was designated as someone unable to conceive, I would hope that there would be another way I could prove myself useful so as to avoid being tossed into a pit or pleasuredome.
Is this my way of subliminally attempting to evade the pit or the pleasuredome? Useful enough to be kept alive might not be enough. To be creative and adaptable and with skills practical enough to be deemed indispensable. Whoof, this went to a bleak place quickly. Though post apocalyptic scenarios will do that.
I actually just stopped writing this and went and brushed my teeth.
It does feel a little bit that I’m whining. Oh, I have so much time to do things that I’m doing too many things all at once and can’t finish doing things. What? No. Fuck off, that’s not what I’m saying at all.
The thing I’m not understanding is why I can’t do something simple like finish putting on my shoes, brushing my teeth, taking a shower. Not that I stop in the middle of a shower to vacuum. It’s one of those “I’m going to take a shower now.” And from that moment to the time I actually take the shower might be anywhere from 30 seconds to an hour and a half.
I’m frustrated by my sanctimonious way of insisting that I subscribe to the tenet put forth by that most excellent of bluesmen, Taj Mahal. “I don’t care in the world what you do, as long as you do what you say you goin’ to.” Yet I’m the fucking queen of I’m going to…without the follow through. The always start never finish mentality. I know it’s probably pretty common. It’s not even that I don’t think I’m capable of finishing or it’s too hard or I took on too much.
It seems so easy. I’m going to do this. And then I do it. But those two sentences are separated by what? A lack of focus? A lack of drive? Of passion? Of interest? Of discip-
Damnit! I’m back at that self discipline place! Around and around. Super dang.
Ok, I’ll admit that right this second I have no solution. (Lists? Schedules? Shock collar? A tea party with Tom Hiddleston? Talk about Earl Grey, hot…) Beyond finishing some of the projects what I’ve started and not allowing myself to start anything new until the pile is a little smaller. And I guess here’s as good a place to start (or finish) as any other.
Done. Good night.