Being fifty-something means my attention span is more important than ever. I have a Bucket List to pursue, a million and one ideas to explore, countless things to read, digest, ponder, experience and share.
If I don’t keep my nose firmly pressed to the grindstone, how will I ever manage it all? (Or even half?)
Clearly, I need some stick-ability, to be able to focus on one thing at a time and follow it through to completion. No distractions. No procrastinating. No excuses.
On the office wall, staring threateningly down over my desk, I have a little sign … a diminutive but powerful piece of do-it-now strategy, in just eleven words.
One thing at a time.
Most important thing first.
I should probably get that printed on a tshirt.
Or tattooed on my forearm.
Or chiselled into my headstone.
Just to remind me what I should be doing. Or should have done.
Of course, I blame my lack of focus on the digital world: the accelerated pace of 21st century living, the demands of family, the lure of the internet (always) and the expectation of 24/7 availability that smart phones and wifi have constructed for us.
Which reminds of an intriguing snippet of stick-ability folklore I learnt of recently. Truth be told, I can’t stop thinking about it.
I was in a group, viewing a display of indigenous artefacts which I assumed were of Australian Aboriginal origin. The storyteller, a New Zealander, explained that a couple of the small hand-shaped axeheads were made of greenstone, probably by New Zealand Maori people.
Greenstone (or nephrite) was prized by the Maori people. You might have seen it shaped into pendants and jewellery, popular souvenirs for New Zealand tourists. It’s a super-hard material that’s not easily carved into axehead shapes. Or any other shapes for that matter.
Intriguing. So how did they manage it without mechanical equipment, not even a Dremel in sight?
It wasn’t so much a matter of tools or techniques … it was about time and focus. Nose to the grindstone. Shoulder to the wheel. A greenstone axehead could take more than a lifetime for a man to carefully, laboriously shape.
What the …?
Traditionally a man would start the process and then pass the partly shaped axehead on to his son to finish, long after he’d gone.
A finished greenstone axehead could be the product of two or even three generations.
Now that’s stick-ability – an attention span to aspire to.
Imagine dedicating your lifetime to a single project, knowing that you would never see the finished product.
I’ve had sweaters that have taken me a couple of seasons to knit.
I’m currently midst a renovation project that’s stretched out for more than a decade.
I know people who have been chipping away at university studies towards a degree for longer again.
But always, there’s the hope of wearing the sweater, relaxing in the just-as-you-imagined-it-finished home or skipping gleefully across the graduation stage in an academic cloak and mortarboard to collect your degree.
I’m not sure the pleasure of passing on a half-carved greenstone axehead to the next generation would float my motivation boat.
I’m more self-serving than that.
Turns out I’m seeking tick-ability rather than stick-ability.
Forget the greenstone. Let the next generation think up their own projects.
I need to get ticking and flicking on my bucket list.
To experience the warm glow of that ticking-off endorphin bliss (for myself) once in a while.
Starting now. Right now. As soon as I check my Facebook.