Oh, look, shiny!
My attention span has gone to hell in a handbasket – so to speak.
I have never thought of myself as having any form of attention deficit. Generally, I can focus and even hyperfocus, when needed. One of the key things that has always been able to keep my attention is reading. Ever since I can recall, starting as early as the first time I learned to read, I have been a voracious reader.
As this quarantine started and it became clear that I would be spending more time alone than usual, I stocked up on many things – jigsaw puzzles, new kitchen tools, frozen food, and books. Although I know that Kindle exists at a “thing,” I find reading on a tablet to be a horrible experience.
For me, reading is a comforting thing. I can curl up in my favorite chair with a glass of wine and I can hold the book in my hands. I love the feeling of books – with a preference for hardcover books. But a nice oversized paperback is nearly as good. Last choice, a smaller format paperback – but still worlds better for me than anything electronic.
Have I read any of those books I bought? Nope. Not a single one.
Oh, I have a started about twelve of them. I have bookmarks in all of them. I often pick one up and try to get back into it, only to put it down after a few minutes. For the first time in my life, I cannot seem to sustain my focus for more than a few minutes. I find myself diving into the book, all excited to finally be back into whatever world or discussion or ideas that intrigued me enough to bring it into my collection.
Then, after a few minutes, I am like a child with ADD. Something catches my attention – a barking dog, backfiring car, flash of sunlight shooting into the room, the irritating refrigerator noise that you cannot ignore once you hear it. Something minor. But as soon as that happens, my attention goes there and I lose my place in the book. If I try to get back, it just doesn’t happen.
Yesterday, I picked up one of my favorite books of all time – something I can happily re-read dozens of times and it never gets old. I curled up in a comfortable chair, poured a glass of wine, and opened the book. After about thirty minutes, I realized that I had read the same page over at least three or four times. I was paying no attention to the words on the page. My brain was off somewhere else.
I hate this! Reading has always been one of my greatest pleasures. I live to read. Now, my messed up brain will not permit me that one simple joy. I find this profoundly depressing and, frankly, I have no clue how to fix it. Maybe there is no cure. Maybe I am stuck with this until something significant changes in the world – in my world.
The days keep on sliding by – up to 106 as of this post. Nearly everything that brings me joy and diversion in the world is gone or significantly curtailed – museums, travel, restaurants, bars, the rock climbing wall at my gym, coffee shops, wine bars. And most of all my chosen profession and biggest passion – the performing arts. Almost all of my favorite things are not possible for me at the moment – and to put the cherry on the cake of the whole thing I cannot even seem to enjoy my solitude by reading my favorite books.
I know that yesterday I talked about gratitude, so I cannot leave this post without trying to dig myself a bit out of this funk. Of course there are many things to be grateful for in my life right now. I am still employed, I have great health insurance, I have access to nearly any kind of food or beverage I want, I have a safe and comfortable home (that is air conditioned – huge plus at the moment), I am healthy, I am surrounded by beautiful things that have positive memory association for me, there are multiple avenues for me to hear and enjoy music in my home, my car is newly serviced and running well, I have countless friends who care about me, I have great electronics to keep me connected to the outside world virtually.
I could go on and on and on. So I will leave it there for the moment.
I have to just take a deep breath and enjoy the moment I am in. So, if I cannot sustain my attention long enough to read a book, I will do my best to find joy in whatever I can in any given moment.
When I get distracted by a shiny object, I will just let myself enjoy it.
It’s only Quarantine if it comes from the Quarante province of France. Otherwise, it’s just Sparkling Isolation.