I read those lines at school while students read their books. I told them I would join them in my own book after I finished an article I was reading. Beside me sat my book and writer's notebook stuck with four blue post-it notes, ideas to write. There were students in the room, movement in the hall, and traffic outside the windows. I was anything but focused on one thing.
My students brag of their mad multi-tasking skillz. I used to argue except I multi-task too (though without skillz mad or otherwise). I'm listening to music as I write, thinking thoughts and typing them, and I occasionally walk and chew gum without falling down. As a teacher, I do many things at once. I no longer argue about multi-tasking, but doing two things at once never feels good because I'm not focused on either one. I read the article distracted and it was a lousy experience. After class I cleared my desk and focused on reading it again. It opened for me because of my focus and I savored it. That's a lot of how I want to live.
However, I don't focus as if it might be my last act. That's too much pressure and becomes my focus. Sure, life is short, but acting as though it is hanging by a thread distracts me. It's like someone holding a gun to my head demanding I enjoy fully and am present in this moment or else. That's not my way of living.
As much as I can, and more each passing year, I focus on one thing at a time: the person with whom I sit, the book I read, the food I eat, the words I write. Most often there are distractions and my habit is to go with them and then curse myself for lacking focus and discipline. But it turned out today that the article was the distraction. I needed to focus elsewhere. I figured that out when I set the article aside and took care of those other things. I focused on each task one after the other rather than two at any one time. When I read the article focused it was a wonder and led to a draft of this. Between paragraphs I took spoonfuls of yogurt, tasting and savoring it as much as these words.
Done with the draft, I looked out the window and focused on nothing until I felt ready to revise. I'm moments from finishing and am allowing my focus to shift now, wondering where it will land next and if I will focus on it as the one thing I'm doing in that moment. If so, that's more than enough.