Tuesday, October 7, 2008



That's the word that has been whispered in my ear since last week, beginning with my former supervisor in San Francisco, who went from crazy to sane once I left that branch, followed by my therapist, followed by a friend. FOCUS. I can either grip it in a vise or balance it out on the flat of my palm.

Before our hour tonight I was talking with one of the guys in our writing group about the polar swing of my brother and myself. MS is a FANTASTIC one for focus. He sets his mind to it and there it is, as though others are rediculous for doubt. Day to day, focusing is my weakest link.


If a crisis comes up it works polar opposite. My brother sits and spins while I move mountains. It's as though he's spent all his focus and I'm saving mine up for a rainy day.

I can't say that I know what's better. But I can say that the past two days of focusing have brought me as close to living for the first time in six years, and have been MONUMENTALLY DIFFICULT. It has been as though learning to ride a bike, or drive, or...


There's this machine I operate at work called a Crown WAVe. (That's not a typo--it's how it's spelled and capitalized.) If you take a gander at the picture--go ahead, take a moment--you'll see it looks like a mini car. The entire unit is about 4 and a half to 5 feet high and about that long. Looking at it, it looks pretty simple: turn the handlebars like a motorcycle, there's buttons on the grips to raise and lower you, and a horn. There's even fast and slow speeds labeled with a picture of a turtle and alternative picture of a rabbit on the toggle.

Now take a look at the wheels.

Exit simplicity.

Yeah, I know what you're thinking. "What? It's just four wheels. What's the deal?" But if you look closer you will see a stationary set of wheels in the back, and 360 swivel casters in the front.

"So?" Now you're getting annoyed.

If you're driving forward, this unit is a JOY to drive. (Even better, if you toggle to "rabbit" mode and open the back gates the thing FLIES FAST...no kidding.) But if you get parked in an aisle and have to back out, God help you. Regardless of how slowly you back, the unit always jerks one way or the other violently, because the loose front casters are swinging out and correcting themselves. You spend the first two months ramming into a lot of racking and making the warehouse shake and causing someone to get on the radio and say, "What was THAT?"

At about month two, though, something happens to your feel for the steering. You start to feel where your wheels left off when you were going forward, and you start to steer into it, and YOU END UP CORRECTING THE CASTERS. It's wild. You can't explain it. If you did you would start crashing into the racking again until you forgot how to drive it.

Because you don't drive the WAVe.

Your body rides the WAVe.


One more and then I'll leave you alone for another day.

We'll stick with a water theme.

I'll lose the technology and cruise back a ways, though.

To a different story of a wave.

Imagine Peter, learning how to walk on a liquid surface. His teacher is telling him to walk on water, and he does, as though we all could, as easy as driving a WAVe. And then Peter takes the focus off the prize and looks at the elements around him.

The waves.

Focus seems easier, for some, on a day-to-day basis. People take their eyes off the storm all the time and just walk on water, as though we all could, as though the caster is mastered. For others of us, it takes the storm to get us out of the boat, it takes the meeting of 1,000 lb bumper and steel, and then we're focused. We're focused in the crash, we're focused with wind, we're focused through death.

It's granting myself a learning style.

The end goal here, after all, is to be focused regardless, to walk out focused across a sea of green.

Give me time....for Pete's sake.

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