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Sharp Once

I used to be sharp. I remember taking 18 credits, having two part time jobs, being a scout in the National Guard and in ROTC, getting up daily at 5:30am for PT and still having time for Aikido and to talk to pretty girls. I remember just not having enough time to get done all the things I wanted to do, and no time to relax - I went five months without a day off, at one point. And it didn't rattle me, I was pretty satisfied. I remember being sharp (and having the cheekbones to match!) and fit; and no matter how much I beat up my body, my brain just got sharper. The trick is to be able to focus on exactly what's happening at the moment, and then completely drop it as soon as I'm on to the next thing. Somewhere underneath the consciousness of now, my mind would be hammering out a cohesive plan for the next while integrating the lessons of the just-happened; all without detracting from my attention on the present. It was exhausting, and the few hours of sleep I managed were badly needed. But I was sharp.

And now look at me. The ever-expanding layer of pudding I'm carrying around under my skin is as soft and flabby as my mental attention. On those rare occasions when life presents something I really have to concentrate on to work out, I remember that I'm smart, and I have a lot of brain that I'm not using. But otherwise i've gone from a shark constantly moving forward, constantly seeking - to a housecat. Give me a sunbeam, pet my head, give me tuna. Otherwise I'll go back to sleep, thanks. I am in a constant state of half-attention; flicking back and forth from email, to browsing the web, to flat-out daydreaming. I have precious few productive minutes in any given day - though of course I do get my job done at work. (and that's more and more work now that we've been cut down so much. But you know what? I might bitch, but I can do it and then some, if only I were sharp.) I guess I liked doing plays because it demanded the same attention as Aikido, as night time patrols, as writing - you've got to give it your full focus, or it shows plainly to everyone present.

Man, is it ever time to get sharp again. I can do it, if I just stop getting distracted by the sunbeams, and the tuna. No time for love, Dr. Jones! Dating has wobbled between disaster and disappointment, without every really being satisfying. Why bother? I've got time to spare, and no more excuses. Time to get sharp; back to the dojo, back to writing, back to the surf, back on the running trail. I was sharp once; and though I've become very dull with disuse like a knife in the drawer, I can hone myself, if only I make the effort.

Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
catrionamacnair
Aug. 22nd, 2007 07:45 pm (UTC)
I was sharp once; and though I've become very dull with disuse like a knife in the drawer, I can hone myself, if only I make the effort.

This is the essential spirit. If even a self-pitying wannabe Scot managed to kick herself into getting up from the couch again, surely the most awesome pirate yours truly is honoured to call a friend will return to past glory. I doubt it not.

All the best. And remember, practice makes perfect; default perfection is only for Gods and cartoon superheroes, thusly do not let a drawback or five disencourage you.
erythromeister
Aug. 22nd, 2007 09:07 pm (UTC)
Neal Stephenson's website used to be (up to about a year ago) a single black-and-white text-only page that complained about the phenomenon of "continuous partial attention" that plagues modern life -- being able to read email, watch a DVD, and compose an SMS with your feet. Hence, his decision to make a very simple website, avoid answering fanmail, and devote his time to writing. A lot. As you well know... (I had a hard time *not* putting down book I on multiple occasions. Sheer bullheadedness got me through it. Book II was also a slog, but I hit my rhythm in Book III, and over all would say it was worth the time and effort).

So, I guess what I'm saying is... you best bet is to head out to the woods with a laptop.
aghrivaine
Aug. 22nd, 2007 09:14 pm (UTC)
You are right, and I've felt that pull for a while - to go someplace simple. In fact, that's what was so rewarding about the Army; one thing at a time, always. And no mystery as to what that one thing might be; your lieutenant/sergeant/captain will make that perfectly clear.
lonerhino
Aug. 23rd, 2007 01:57 am (UTC)
Do you plan on honing yourself on a nightly basis?
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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