I can’t multi-task to save my life. I wake up in the morning and whilst extricating myself from the fragments of dreams that cling like spider webs and take time to dissipate, I lie very still, waiting for the pain. It often takes a while to sort through various sensations and even once I’ve managed that, it’s not always obvious where it hurts. It just hurts and through the hum of lower grade it-hurts-everywhere-pain, there’s usually a spike somewhere. It takes my full concentration and undivided attention to determine exactly where that is. I don’t always succeed, sometimes, the clues are just too few and the sensations to vague. I give up and run my hands over joints. I know my joints pretty well, the feel of the bony patterns that permutate like a musical theme and variations, like the ones I used to play on the piano as a child. Some times, changes are minor, like an abrupt phrase modulation from the major to the minor key, whilst other times, it’s spectacular, like listening to the chromatic and enharmonic modulations in Franck’s Symphony in D minor. At that moment in time that’s all there is, the puzzle of the day demanding to be solved before I can progress to the next part.
Walking is tricky. It’s a deliberate and careful act. Every step requires thought. I can’t walk and do anything else. Thinking about moving is a difficult and complex skill that requires constant conscious thought or moving goes very wrong. I move too far or not enough, grip too hard or not enough, drop things, spill things, break things. Bones slide, joints crumble and continuing down that road all I can think about after that for a while is pain. And so I don’t multi-task well as most of life requires some form of movement and movement requires my complete and undivided attention. I have to stop to think. I used to take more risks. I had more faith in my ability to compensate. I also couldn’t care less about getting hurt or how I felt, as long as I could do something. I’ve always been quiet, not because I don’t like to talk, but it’s work and people talk and do something else and I chose the something else instead. Like eating on my lunch break, working at my desk, walking from point A to B. Even when cutting out the second part, thinking about every minute movement is rather tiring and I was very tired all the time. And so I downscaled, did less, stopped trying so hard. I chose easier routes. I preferred books and films and music, things I could do without moving much at all.
I’m easily frustrated by this requirement to focus on one thing, but then I realize that doing one thing is not that bad a thing. And needing breaks is not that big a deal. I have a cold, again, and I’m tired and moody and sleep half the day. Unfortunately focusing on one thing very easily changes into fixating on one thing and when I’m tired and moody, that one thing is either bad or bad for me. My body doesn’t do obsession well. I can’t play a game for hours and I can’t think around in circles and keep my balance and I can’t watch hours of TV. I have to stop and stretch and rest and change what I’m doing. And so we make an effort. I do different things and then we make time to vary the usual things. We go out to the cinema rather than staying in with a movie. We go swimming rather than stick to the usual yoga/pilates routine. We walk to the shop rather than drive to pick up milk and bread and something interesting for dinner. I play Bioshock rather than WoW. I watch comedy instead of drama. I go to bed early, but still get up late and sleep all afternoon without feeling guilty. It’s a bright sunny day and the cat sun bathes in the window whilst I nap. I’d get more done multitasking if I could, but there’s a pleasure in getting completely and utterly wrapped up in something that’s lost when I try to split my attention and it’s not a pleasure I’m willing to sacrifice for a small probability of getting more done. More isn’t always better. And quality above quantity any day.