Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Shifting Focus

Because life is not predictable, not completely under our control, we sometimes find ourselves with a new focus before we have taken firm root in the one we only just chose. This has happened in my life. My 85 year old mother went into the hospital several days ago and my focus changed right away. Her needs, and working with my family to meet them, moved to center stage.

When something urgent takes center stage, it usually displaces any other focus. What I have experienced is that not only are these other focuses set aside temporarily, they are often set aside for quite a while. The momentum that carried them dissolves in the face of crisis and it is hard to regain it.

Because I am focusing on focus itself, I have an opportunity to look at this process and perhaps do something differently. It occurs to me that when I shift focus in response to something urgent, I might be able to lightly hold the reins of the original focus. 

So I confer with my family, make phone calls, write notes, organize information, and, most important, call my mom. Then I go into my studio and play one of my instruments. The sound soothes me, the moment’s practice anchors me, and I am, for that short time, tending my focus on music.  Or, I go into my studio and write a little, thinking about focus and how it works with these challenges, and in this way I am tending that focus.

What I discover is that keeping anchored in a chosen focus can be very sustaining during a crisis of any sort. It provides a way to step back into “normal” life for a moment. I can then return to what I need to do with a sense of renewal. The original focus is held lightly, but held nonetheless.

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