Despite the 20-30 minutes I set aside each morning for meditation, I find that my attention span has dwindled to just a few seconds for any one thing. No surprise, really: my job as Art Director is diverse, requiring that I work in video, print and web — often all at the same time, meaning that there are literally hundreds of short thoughts I have during the day to tell some software what I want to accomplish. Imagine spending most of the day just thinking, “Cut. Copy. Paste. Blur. Sharpen. Make Layer from Cut. 12pt. 14pt… no, 12pt. PMS 315. Move this layer above that one. Place marker here… now cut the clip, move it to the video layer above…”
You get the idea.
For a lot of people this is normal… for others it’s insanity. For me, it’s what I do to make a living and, frankly, I enjoy (most of) the results.
Hours of this kind of thinking — combined with a few more in the evenings reading RSS feeds — is, literally, changing the way I think. Whereas at one time I would read 1-2 books a week (plus magazines) and not be able to put the words down until my eyes couldn’t stay open, now I can barely get through a couple of pages before my attention wanders. I don’t watch TV and, despite my interest in screenwriting, rarely watch movies because I find I get bored quickly (and with the crap that’s been coming out of Hollywood in the past couple of years, can you blame me? “Re-imagining”, anyone?).
So how can I expect less than 30 minutes out of my usual 16-hour day to result in a “calmer” mind — that each half-hour will be a stone on a path to mental emancipation — when I can Google, tweet, post or download any kind of information my mind is craving at that moment?
The anwer: I can’t.
After almost four years abroad I’m only now starting to acclimate. Thankfully, I have a good-paying job in the midst of this financial fiasco and with medication and meditation I’ve come away from the dark pit of depression.
But I do get lonely (*sniffle*). While I’ve never been gregarious and actually like spending time alone, there’s a part of me that’s still homesick, that still wonders what life might have been like if I hadn’t moved so far away.
So I’ve come to rely on RSS, my iPhone and various other “social” tools to try and bridge the gap of time and distance so I can, if just for a minute, feel like I’m still part of something.
Some instruments, though, just perpetuate the illusion.