A lesson in distraction
I returned to work last week. Returning to week doesn't exactly mean driving to the office, but in resuming work on client projects. I'm not in the frame of mind to putter away on my own projects.
Left alone with nothing to do, my thoughts dwell on my son's death. They're not pretty thoughts. I weep.
I recognize that the world continues to move on. That my life must continue moving forward, which means that I must continue to work and earn a salary to fund that life. It's not easy, but then no one ever said it would be.
I have learned the fine art of distraction to redirect my thoughts, however temporarily, to matters other than dark, heavy sorrow. Work is a distraction. One such project is a client's memoire. He's an immigrant from Ghana and offers an interesting perspective on American culture. Another is a fantasy novel targeted toward young teens. There's a fine line between dumbing down and writing to their level of comprehension and vocabulary while still developing a good story that draws young readers through the pages. I also wrote an article which I pitched to Newsweek and was accepted. Here's the link; feel free to share the article among your social networks. I also wrote another article about the article, which was edited to omit some information. I posted that one on LinkedIn. Feel free to share that, too.
A friend's kindness helped with further distraction: painting. Over the past year, I took several art classes that mostly focused on painting. I'm no Botticelli or Renoir, but I enjoy the activity and plan to take advantage of art supply sales at the local hobby/craft store to stock up on canvasses, brushes, and paints. My husband mentioned that I'd painting midday and sunset pictures, but no sunrise pictures. Well, now I have a sunrise picture. No, there are no flowers that even remotely look like those in my painting, but then it's not meant to be photorealistic. It's meant to be "nice to look at." No more, no less.
Even more important, I enjoyed painting it. It was nice to be among other people, even though we were "socially distanced," because we have come to view fellow human beings as carriers of contagion rather than as people.
Distraction is necessary to keep the tears at bay, to refocus the mind on more productive and less stressful thoughts. I find myself exercising greater patience these days and less tolerance. The exercise of patience has been forced upon me due to government office backlog. I realize that greater patience in most other matters won't hurt either. The reduced tolerance concerns what I deem worthy of my time and attention. If I begin reading a book in which the heroine (or hero) is too stupid to live, then I cast it aside. I feel no obligation to finish the book. If I begin reading a book littered with grammatical errors, then I cast it aside. I feel no obligation to finish it. If I'm playing a solitary game of Scrabble with the computer and it beats me two games in a row, then I quit for the night, because my mind's obviously not as focused as it should be.
Focus remains erratic and elusive. It's not a good place to be, even though I know this, too, shall pass. The heartbreak will ease with time and the memories fade. My son won't be forgotten, but we'll learn to focus more on the joyful memories than the more recent painful ones.
This is life which does not stop for death.
I can't promise not to dwell on the topic in upcoming blog posts, but I can and do promise to try to shift the focus. To that end, if you have an article you'd like to post which is on the topic of writing, editing, or publishing, feel free to submit it to me at email@example.com. All accepted posts will be edited, but getting back on topic will benefit everyone who reads this blog.
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