Is my curiosity or my desire to escape reality propelling my procrastination?
Amsterdam, Noord-Holland, The Netherlands.
I just did something I rarely ever do: I erased 3 paragraphs I wrote 30 minutes ago. Or 55. And in the mean time I surfed to some stupid website for the 600th time, I ate some mackerel and an avocado while standing behind the sink (too lazy to turn it into a proper meal), contemplated if I should meditate or not. Or maybe I should just give in to procrastination and read on the couch or download another episode of Game Of Thrones.
There are things I want or wanted to do today. I wanted to write a post, I want to meditate and I feel like going for a run. In between I want to eat healthy. But because I can’t really decide on a plan I have spend most of my day staring in my computer and walking to and fro the kitchen and doing some not-so-substantial emails and phone calls. Meanwhile it is 3.38 pm, can’t say that the day is still young.
I wish I could say it is just a temporary thing. That it is because I have to find my Dutch life rhythm back. But it is not. It is the story of my life.
This is something I never mentioned publicly: a couple of years ago I found out by accident that I might have something like ADD or ADHD. If I remember correctly the hyper activity doesn’t come out in a very physical way when you are smart but (could be my personal interpretation) creates a fast moving mind instead (which is called “creative” or “original”). I still don’t know if I am “officially” ADD and I thought I had good reasons not to find out (I feel that labels are destructive and undermining). But on days like this I can see my behavior and restlessness very clearly and it frustrates me. And the day I found out that these things were “symptoms” of something like ADD I recalled going through this battle almost daily for so many years. I would spend hours and hours not doing my homework as child. This is the reason why I can juggle, balance a broom stick on my nose, do keepie uppies and let the ball drop dead in my neck: skills I developed while avoiding my home work.
Right now I just heard the little ping of a new email and the chances that it is something important is less than 1% but still I find it very hard not to interrupt my writing. In any other case I would have checked my inbox by now, using the beep as an excuse to distract myself. It is only because distraction is my topic of today that I didn’t look but typed this paragraph instead.
When I was hanging out with my buddy the Afghanistan vet in Vietnam he told me how he used Ritalin for a while and how clear and sharp he became when under the influence of that drug. “If you want to have a razor sharp focus for 3-4 hours in a row, that stuff is amazing,” he said. He would use it when he had to write papers but also told me that he used heavy work-outs to wean himself off from it. Apparently, he felt it is better to go without that stuff.
Just caught a breathe after finishing the previous paragraph and almost, almost checked my email. Phew … close call … But what is it? Curiosity? Or a desire to escape reality?
I think I have never been focused for 3-4 hours in my life while working alone. The only way I can do it is in interaction with people. That is the reason why I can give workshops to groups of people: I can stay concentrated and sharp all the time. My explanation is that it is because it is so dynamic that I can’t get bored (and I genuinely care about my participants). I am happy that my “handicap” has provide me with a talent too. But I would love to experience the flow that computer programmers describe when they code: that they completely forget all notion of space and time. Writers (I want to say: real writers, not amateurs like me) report similar experiences. I really want to know how that feels. Also, I am not looking forward to writing a book in my usual way; hindered by internal struggle and distraction.
I am contemplating if I should give Ritalin a shot.
At the same time, coming Sunday I will go France, to attend a zen retreat (sesshin) lead by my teacher. After 2 weeks of full time meditation my concentration is excellent. I remember how I came back from a retreat and just went through my email and all my chores on my to-do list in one continuous flow. It felt almost like a dance. It was amazing. So I know that my meditation practice if of vital importance to me. And I do practice almost every day, the only thing is that I always manage to squeeze some procrastination between rising in the morning and sitting down on my cushion. Most of the time I sit somewhere between 11 am and 4 pm and I have managed to build up some sense of guilt.
The thing I want most in my life is the thing I avoided with phenomenal success: structure. I don’t have structure and I don’t have discipline. Fortunately I do have perseverance and will power to overcompensate that. Without these features I would be a seriously depressed couch potato.
It is funny, I am almost at the end of my post and I am less than 35 minutes under way. Normally it takes me at least 2 hours to type something. If I can only master the shortening of the run up and save myself the frustration and waste of time.
Tomorrow I will have dinner with my uncle. He is a psychiatrist and specializes in ADD. He thinks it runs in our family and I always discarded it as bullshit. I did not believe in the diagnosis and I did not believe somebody can suffer from it and I certainly did not believe me of my family members could ‘have it’. But this time I will ask his opinion and I might consider experimenting with medication.
This day is not completely wasted. I wrote this post and will attend my first Toastmasters meeting tonight, making a start with improving my public speaking skills. And I cleaned up the kitchen. Well … sort of.
Photo courtesy of the author.