I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Focus is hard for me this morning

Front porch geraniums at dawn
Every morning part of my routine is to perform the Five Tibetan Rites right after I've gotten dressed. I don't wear shoes because it doesn't feel right to have my feet covered when I do them, or when I do yoga, either. Other than those two times, I always wear shoes or slippers. In the spring and summer, I like to be outside on my front porch with my yoga mat. In the Second Rite, I'm lying on the mat and when I look up, I see my flowers, sometimes lighted by the sun as you can see in the picture above.

I write this post every Sunday morning, as soon as I get my tea and my laptop, I open the lid and ponder what I'll write about today. When I went to bed last night, I kept thinking of the phrase "Intimations of Immortality," but I didn't remember where I had heard it before. Since I have the entirety of human knowledge right at my fingertips, I went searching for the origin of that phrase. William Wordsworth wrote an Ode by that name, with a line that I remembered vaguely, "Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting." Somehow that must have come to me in some form lately, because I keep thinking of it and pondering its meaning. The subtitle of that Ode refers to recollections from childhood. I don't think I ever read it, but this morning I perused parts of it and find it interesting but very difficult to understand because of the stilted writing. Take a look at it yourself, if you're interested. That link has a line that sums it up well, though:
[It] is a long and rather complicated poem about Wordsworth's connection to nature and his struggle to understand humanity's failure to recognize the value of the natural world. The poem is elegiac in that it is about the regret of loss. 
Right now I'm regretting the loss of time I just spent in perusing at least a dozen links. That's part of the problem with having the infinite wealth of knowledge at my fingertips: I can't seem to keep myself from getting lost in it. And that's right now, while my brain is still rather clear from having had such a good night's sleep.

I learned recently that researchers suggest that the reason we sleep is to "clean out" our memories, and that it's an important part of being able to store new ones. I know that when I sleep I have such vivid dreams they amaze me with their creativity. I wouldn't ever come up with some of the themes and images if my waking self were present. It's a whole different world when I'm asleep. Apparently I'm also storing and organizing while all that's going on. That's pretty astounding, when I think of it. (I just spent another half hour researching THAT subject. I'll never get out of bed unless I concentrate on getting this post written.)

Now I'm regretting the loss of all that time I just spent, but it's not going to get better unless I find the focus I'm lacking at the moment. I think of my readers noticing how scattered I am this morning, and that's not making it any better. I feel rather exposed because I feel that pressure, totally self-induced pressure, but still. Sitting here with my laptop and my fingers tapping the keys, with absolutely no idea where I might go with this post. Can I forgive myself for my difficulty?

I will tell you what I did yesterday, just for something to focus on. It was a beautiful bright day, and a little after 7:00 my friend Lily and I drove to the coffee shop to get caffeinated before our walk with the ladies. Afterwards we joined the others at the meeting spot, to see that there were over twenty of us ready to walk in the sunshine. It's a nice walk, and we walked three miles at a brisk pace to the ferry terminal. At that point, seven of us decided to turn around and not go any farther, since we all had various aches and pains and wanted to walk at a more leisurely pace. It was lovely to slow down a little. We ended up walking six miles total.

Once we got back to the Farmers' Market, Lily and I shopped awhile and then came back home. Since it was such a beautiful day, I went out to the garden and puttered around, watering the plants and talking to them a bit, while admiring the work of my fellow gardeners. Then I came inside and started a new book and almost finished it before I realized what I had done. And then, since it was getting late, I went back into the garden to join several other gardeners who had gathered to enjoy a glass of wine or a beer. It was a lovely way to finish the day.

I feel better now, a little more focused, after having thought about what I did yesterday. Today, once I finish my self-imposed task of writing, I'll get up and dress, do my exercises and then head to the coffee shop to visit with my friends there. I don't know why I look forward so much to my interaction with them, but I do. My friends John and Gene are almost always there before I make it, but on Sunday I have a ritual: when I order my coffee, I also order a well-toasted and well-buttered bagel and share it with John. I don't usually allow myself to have such a calorie-laden treat but Sunday morning is different. It wouldn't be the same if we didn't share it.

Ah. Now I realize why it was so hard to focus this morning. I have been trying to rush through in order to get out and about. The intense sunlight streaming through the windows makes me want to get going, and meditating about things is not where I want to be. I'm a little embarrassed by my rambling lack of focus, but it is what it is. Nobody is forcing me to write this, and nobody is forcing you to read it. I suppose you were expecting something profound, and I promise I'll try harder next week. But for now, the day is not only calling to me, it won't shut up!

So with that, I'm going to finish this post, send it out into the universe, and fly out of bed to start my day. I do hope that you will forgive me for my lack of focus. I wish you all good things until we meet again next week. Here I go!


Linda Reeder said...

OK, that explains why you were not here when I looked for you at 7:00. Now I have posted another epic pictorial, had my shower, and the day is calling me to get out there too. We will be visited other gardens this morning and puttering in our own this afternoon.
Self-forgiveness is the hardest kind, and the most essential.

Gigi said...

With a beautiful day calling, I completely understand your lack of focus! Unfortunately, on the other side of the country it's raining and chilly. No gardening for me today.

Have a great week, DJan!!

Dee said...

Dear DJan, a number of years ago, when I was reading your posting each week, you wrote several times about a little boy in the coffee shop. Are either John or Gene that little boy?

I hope your day keeps moving along into new and exciting thoughts. Focusing on them is a possibility! But whether you write about your own philosophy of being or focusing, your writing always draws me in. Peace.

Tabor said...

I have had trouble with focus and sticking to projects recently. I had a bunch of events to distract me and now that I am free I am wasting my time.

Arkansas Patti said...

Sometimes it is refreshing to let the mind go its own direction and pace. I too can get side tracked looking up stuff from this wondrous wealth of information called the Internet. Love it but it is a time eater. Me too on vivid dreams. Like you, I feel fortunate to be able to live two lives, one awake and one asleep.

Elephant's Child said...

Focus, shmocus.
I thoroughly enjoy my visits here, and the invitation we receive into your head, heart and day.
And, as a PS, I too struggle to understand why people don't realise how important the natural world is...

Far Side of Fifty said...

Your view of the geraniums is lovely! I never have bagels, but an English Muffin with lots of nooks and crannies would be wonderful! :) I hope you have a wonderful week, we have your rain and cool weather :(

Marie Smith said...

I feel so rushed lately but I guard this reading time diligently; no interference whilst I read your blog. You did not disappoint again as I entered your world. Have a wonderful day, Jan.

Trish and Rob MacGregor said...

And you're off!!

Linda Myers said...

I had a dream the other night that answered many questions I'd been mulling over. It amazes me how my sleeping brain has more wisdom than my waking one.

It will be 100 degrees today in Tucson, so I'm looking forward to our Wednesday return to the cooler Pacific Northwest.

Red said...

Nice touch with personification in the second last paragraph. Now the liking to get up and go? could it have more to do with the coffee routine than the company??? Just stirring things up! I'm a regular riser. No alarms. Coffee is my alarm.

Bonnie said...

I always enjoy my time with you reading your posts. We are all human and our minds wander and focus changes. It can be good to let our thoughts go where they may and see where we end up. Real and honest is never a disappointment!

The Furry Gnome said...

I'd say you gotta have unfocused days in order to have focused days at other times! It's all a matter of balance.

Mary said...

Wherever you live, how wonderful it is to have such easy access to your friends. Would love a coffee shop to go to each morning with regular friends and a common garden area. As we age, I think human connection is very important.

Rita said...

I love your Sunday posts. They are a stream of consciousness type of post and so I don't care where your mind goes. I find it interesting to follow your thoughts along wherever they go. These posts are always perfect because they are just you. :)

MaryAnn said...

Your post described what I have been feeling -- unfocused. It is hard to get back to planning the day, or looking for activities for future days once the clear sighted view of the world disappears. There is a kind of beige cloud that seems to block out everything and I sometimes find myself at the end of a day with very little to show. I did go out to watch the ocean today to try to get back to feeling energy to move forward

Heidrun Khokhar, KleinsteMotte said...

Coffee is not part of my day. I get too anxious. Even tea is only the herbal kind and wine is now off the list too. Rarely do Buddy and I share a gjass of wine. My dreams are in vivid colour too. Not sure how some of them are useful for sorting as they are offten like a movie creation full of characters and action. It is still cool here but gardening has begun. At this rental house I doubt we"ll do much as there are no beds to use for anyything. Perhaps we'll try planters on the deck again? We spent this Sunday at a resort away from all the rain.

John's Island said...

Hi DJan, I always enjoy your reflections on the get together at the coffee shop. I think it would be fun to show up there some Sunday morning and share a cup of coffee with you, the other John, and the other regulars. Thanks, as always, for sharing your thoughts! PS I would order my own well-toasted and well-buttered bagel! :-)