Thoughts after listening to the 32nd podcast, doing the 27th kriya and writing the 7th gratitude list...
Each time I set in to focus a screen lights up. Check it, check it again, check a different message the third time, just to check, next time send one. “Time to focus,” becomes the same time that I forgot to take zinc, call a friend, go to the bathroom, soak the beans, deep condition my hair, or wash the kitchen rags. When you decide to focus, every task feels needy and relentless.
I’m frustrated and writing this feels hulking. Just when I thought I had no more to shed, a deep gash set in around the top of my head that I needed to rip down my side body; flaked lacerations levitating over my skin, leaving me chapped and flinching. I want to be clean again and then I wonder if I ever was. A residue in my eyes prevents me from crying. The debris from all my previous sheds aggregates at my feet, its stem tethered to my ankles waving like a ripped white flag.
Even this text was due last month. Writing on not being able to write - I’m overcome with the guttural urge to whimper. It’s now uncomfortably clear that I’ve only thought of adaptogens and breath of fire for 7 months.
Sitting down to focus is self confronting. It conjures up such resistance I wonder if I’ve ever genuinely enjoyed writing. Perhaps in college I decided to write because I thought it made me more alluring. This makes me feel dizzy.
I do in fact give my undivided attention to somethings: the self pity over not writing, the architect who introduced me to cantaloupe and taught me how to poach an egg, or the flesh slouching above my underwear. So I know that I can contemplate things with vigor, even when, especially when, they are trivial. It is possible that these things are all I care about anymore. Anything is possible! But if that’s the truth, fine, I’d just like to know so I can rewrite my to do list.
For months I sat with this despair until a synchronicity occurred. Afterall, I had been praying for one, hands together, eyes closed, vexed by my own desperation. Late one week night, after lamenting to a friend over my lack of focus, she asked me if I had written about this concern to a podcaster we both follow. I laughed and dismissed her with a no, “I don’t write into those things,” (in this case a Q & A about relationship blocks).
She generously ignored my condescension, telling me there was a question about procrastination that echoed my frustrations. The podcaster recommended a book called The War of Art, which “addresses all of these concerns.” At that exact moment I looked at my bookshelf, and next to Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian stood The War of Art, by Steven Pressfield. One of my roommate’s books that I dismissedbecause of the embarrassing and overtly provocative title. Another The Artist’s Way or Bird by Bird type recommendation typically felt alienating but in that moment my forlornness put me in a ripe state to rejoice in the potential miracle. I suspended all judgment and finished the book in one sitting. I paused only to shut my eyes and relish in my reconciled feelings. While laying in bed, I wondered if there would be a time before and after this book, like the sort of reviews people leave on Goodreads.
I learned that my resistance to focusing manifested as my singular dedication to tending to my mother wound. And that, there comes a point when even healing is a deflection. I assumed that I couldn’t write a poem until I did a meditation, went on a run, or thousands of other primers that took the whole day for 7 months. The same methodology as “I can’t book that trip to Tahiti until I lose 20 lbs,” or “I can’t have an orgasm until I deconstruct why I like to be choked.” A circular philosophy that leaves people fat and unfucked far from Polynesia.
The more you focus the more focus you have: this is the trick of focus!
Like sugar, the more you have in your body the more you want in your body. Focus satiates you in private, with no trophy nor cheers. You can work towards looking sexy on a surfboard but no one can see when you’re on page 636 of a 1,000 + page novel and your phone has 53 unread messages.
When I focus a multitude of things happen: my brain twirls and tingles then two hours later, I’m inspired! “I’ll write now.” Before this book I seldom did, but I wanted to want to. The aftershock of even a short bout of concentration is that my sentences glide out of my mouth like putting sharp scissors to wrapping paper and the people are satisfied!!!!
I know people, not many, but a few who self confront with an automated devotion. The reason they have this devotion is because they’ve had this devotion. It multiplies into itself, creating not a habit, not a phase but a lifestyle.
Once we overcome resistance, pushing through it like a popsicle sliding out of its wrapper, there is sweet nectar not only at the end, but in the middle and at the end. The more you resist resistance the less resistance you will face and that is the trick of resistance. ;)