I was driving home from West Point last night when suddenly I didn’t know where I was. Had I turned off off Highway 45 onto 82 or not?
I’d been wandering around the wilderness of random thoughts which often happens when I’m on a road I know like the back of my hand. I’d been paying attention to everything but the road – wondering what I had in the fridge, whether my son had made it home to Nashville yet, should I trade vehicles or have a luncheon for Brenda’s birthday? Did I need new tires yet and what should I do about that giant raccoon someone spotted coming out of my chimney?
Staying focused was the promise I made to myself yesterday morning when the day was new and anything seemed possible. Yet here I was scattered all over the Southeast.
“The brain isn’t wired to process everything simultaneously,” says neuroscientist Robert Desimone, Ph.D,. “It has to choose which signal gets top priority.”
In my world, the loudest, scariest, sharpest or smelliest usually gets top priority. Right now I’m worrying about my friend Carole’s daughter who is fighting a fierce battle with melanoma yet a second ago I was thinking of changing my hair color. FOCUS, you twit!
Can thoughts be tamed? I googled “taming thoughts and getting focused” and discovered that I feel the need to do a million things at once although none are done well and often must be redone within days. I think that’s called a “scatterbrained” and I’m probably terminal, but I made a vow today to deal with distractions. Off goes the television set with it’s morning show featuring five millennials and one boomer (The Today Show crew), giggling like hyenas over something that went a mile over my head.
I cut them off and reveled in the silence for a few moments before resuming my morning routine which is typically a mental muddle. I read it can take months to rewire the pathways in your brain and to get started, a mere 12 minutes of meditation was recommended to put us on the right track. I googled “guided meditation” and found a beautiful beach with slightly accented British fellow to guide me through the next 12 minutes. It turned out to be quite relaxing and refreshed, I restarted my day.
I’ll wander off the rails again any moment now, but you gotta start somewhere. Rather than berating myself for the relapse, I’ll notice the detour, forgive myself and start over. Here’s to a whole day of focus and accomplishing one task at a time – oh and a few laughs would be good.