Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Beginning to focus

Years and years ago, my mother had already caught on to my M.O. Not so different from my father, I suppose. His mother used to tell him: tell me about it in a week... if you remember. My mother told me beginning at least in Junior High (oh, so many times, I'm not even sure the Painter could count that high): if you concentrate on one thing... there's nothing you can't do well.

Ah yes, focus. You know, I have found that strength inside at times. I did write a dissertation. There's something to be said for that. Ph.D. You can't take it away. It's my title. I earned it. And in earning it, I learned something, something beyond the classes I took (both those I enjoyed, and those I dreaded), something beyond the subject about which I wrote. I learned something about me. It's true. If I concentrate, there's nothing I can't do well.

It's not the doing that ever gives me trouble. And Lord knows it's not a lack of ideas. Too many in fact. They flow and trip over each other, like letters climbing to the top of the coconut tree. But, I can follow through. I know that. The trouble is deciding which path to take.

Alright, I still haven't settled on one thing. Don't suppose I ever really will. I look at the Painter especially. And I know that what he reflects in personality didn't arise in a vacuum. Little children learn from their parents. Perhaps it was my own stubbornness in defiance of my mother's dictum. I don't have to concentrate. I don't have to focus. I can do many things well. Just watch me. Of course, I'm not a little boy anymore. I realize there is a value in focusing.

What I can do, what I'm willing to do, is narrow down the field. Okay, not one thing perhaps, but I can't do it all. I'm proud of the fact that, in writing my dissertation, and now in my writing in general, I have no trouble at editing, at paring down, and deleting a word, or phrase, or section. My dissertation was about 300 pages, but not, I wish to add, because I didn't delete upwards of 100 more. I did. It wasn't needed. It didn't contribute to the whole.

What can I pare down in my life? For one... I think it's time I shed cognitive neuroscience. Not because it doesn't interest me. But, I can read. Why not let others do that research. I can quote them. I'm no psychologist either. I don't really wish to put too much effort into laboratory experiments. I can discard that desire. Let others do it. I can read. I can quote them.

Little things. Little steps. Paring, pruning, weeding. I'm a gardener. I can do this.

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