Monday, September 03, 2012

Undivided Attention



I woke up at 4 am this morning and lay in bed trying to figure out what is wrong with me.


Now that’s a pretty big issue to tackle at that early an hour, and quite honestly the possibilities are endless. But what I was really trying to figure out is why, for the past few week’s I’ve been struggling to feel so distant, distracted and just an observer in my own life – someone just going through the motions.

There really is not anything wrong, or so I thought. Work is fine; the family is great, the weather has been awesome…what is there to be down about.

So back to this morning at 4:00 am.

I start to go through the list of possibilities – I’ve been pretty solitary the past few days, just wanting to think, to do my own thing. And Nature’s rule is that if you want to be alone, people (re: kids) will want to be with you. I’m there, but not there.

Presenteism at it’s best.

The only thing that I could think of that’s been going on is my on-going battle with my foot problems. Over the past six month’s I’ve been dealing with common foot ailments that have left me frustrated and bouncing between physio, acupuncture, and orthotics.

It will get better, but in the meantime, I’ve immersed myself in trying to find stretches, exercises, postures, treatments, anything that could help me. One positive result is that I am now much more aware of what’s going on.

And at 5:00am, I realized that this is the problem.

I am hyper-aware of what’s going on ALL the time: I’m cognizant of how I step, my pace, my stride, my footwear, my muscles at rest, my muscles when I’m stretching, how I’m sitting, how I’m standing, how the discomfort shifts from my heel to my knee to my hip, how there are seemingly unrelated tendons and nerves firing up when I over-do it

I am constantly thinking about it. Constantly. It is always there in the background of my brain.

So unless I manage to distract myself completely, I have this topic running in the back of my head. And the minute I’m not doing anything or not talking to someone, it jumps to the forefront. This means that I’m rarely giving anyone or anything my undivided attention.

I have let one issue take over the prime real estate in my brain…something that we often do with work (when we are at home) or home (when we are work). It’s like that stupid annoying news ticker on CNN (or Twitter for that matter)…constantly running messages …insisting that you pay attention to it, and not to whatever is actually happening.

It was like a slap that I needed to say “Hellooo…obsessing over here”. It was a physical and mental relief to realize that I was not shutting down, which is what it felt like, but just over-processing was enough for me to let go.

So while I'm not struggling with financial strains, a marital breakdown, kids gone wild, or a job loss...I can appreciate how having an ever present issue can absolutely wreak havoc on your peace of mind and compromise your ability to give someone your undivided attention.

With this in mind (no pun intended), it's given me a new perspective on people who seem distant or unable to focus.  They may not be the social misfits that I was ready to assume they were. 

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