I’ve alluded to the scattered nature of my mind before, but it’s worse than anything that could possibly be imagined. Like Fibromyalgia or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or clinical depression or a host of other “invisible” maladies, you’ll never know what it’s like unless you’ve experienced it. As a result, the body of humanity, which blessedly for them does not suffer from such things, tends to think that you’re just lazy, or a complainer, and that you should just sack up and get over it.
I had difficulty in school from the very start. I absorbed information like a sponge from the very beginning, but I couldn’t focus, and couldn’t organize the data in any meaningful way. I hated those “compare and contrast” exercises; the information was in there, but I could never get at it when I wanted to, although bits and pieces would often percolate to the surface at random moments. Look at some of the comments that appeared on my report cards:
- “He must learn to concentrate on what is being done in class.”
- “Doesn’t work to capacity.”
- “Has done little homework, has kept no notes, and pays very little attention in class. He gets lost in his own thoughts, or some plaything or other during most of our class discussions;” this one was for 7th-grade science, mind you, a subject that has always fascinated me.
I can’t count the number of painful, tortuous parent-teacher conferences where two big adults would pile 16-ton weights of guilt on my little head and tell me that I wasn’t living up to my potental (that never-sufficiently-to-be-damned word), and that I needed to buckle down and pay attention and concentrate and do better. As well they might have asked a kid in an iron lung to run the hundred-yard dash… it just wasn’t going to happen. And despite half a century having elapsed, not much has changed on the fundamental landscape.
This is what it’s like in here:
There are more downsides to this than I can count.
- I can work hard and get things done, but it takes an incredible amount of mental energy.
- Discussions are a challenge. “Esprit de l’escalier” (thinking of the right thing to say only after the moment has passed – and in my case, long after the moment has passed) prevents me from engaging in rational debate. Hence this blog, where ideas get worked out and crafted over time until they are more or less what I want to say.
- Wife: “Don’t you remember that we talked about this?” Me: “No. Honestly.” Wife: “Doghouse.”
- I used to use a Franklin Planner; I’d write everything down, prioritize it 123, ABC… and then I’d forget to look at it. At least a PDA or smartphone beeps at me to remind me to do something.
In the end, it’s a malady that just has to be lived with. I have methods of coping; this blog is one of them. Things that get written down are less likely to worry me later. To-do lists help, but chipping away at them is a slower process than it should be, because I still get distracted easily.
And one final note, after spending a couple of hours trying to craft this entry:
The Old Wolf has spoken.