Fails to effectively regulate attention. Less of a concentrated river, more of a swirling wave, my thoughts swell into the silence of my consciousness, filling the blank space with tangled ideas and unfurling words, meaning created and abandoned. My body pretends at attention, maintains eye contact, while my thoughts absorb the hum of a steady voice and whirl, whirl, whirl, under and over each other, rippling against my skin, a calming caress, as their current floats me away from the present, from the conversation, from the meaning—and then suddenly I’m aware that I’ve drifted out to sea. I challenge the tide—Focus.
Demonstrates poor listening skills. I try to tame my thoughts into straight lines, into logical equations. They’re speaking louder than the voice in front of me, they slide over the spoken words, they stretch into yesterday, into tomorrow, into thirty minutes from now. Seemingly unsynthesized, unregulated, uncontrolled—sentences running off the page, dissolving into nothingness—Focus. I force myself to repeat the conversation in my mind, mentally tracing the words as they’re spoken so that some semblance of meaning might be derived, captured, held on to, but movement, motion, a sound from the side—
Is frequently diverted by external auditory and/or visual stimuli. A door slamming. A passing figure. A women’s laugh. A child’s cry. A blip in the water, ripples redirect, waves crash, thoughts twirl—the meaning is lost—
Becomes immersed in a specific activity or task. A plunge into water, a smack against skin, suddenly I’m enveloped. Suppression of sounds, concentration of thoughts, as if a waterfall could be fed by bottles of distilled water. A discordant symphony rises from the chaotic swells—I make progress, I write, I research, I focus, meaning is made from the mess of my thoughts, euphonious chaos billowing to the surface, tumbling and beautiful and crashing and complete—Focused.
Ben Shahn, XV The Sea Itself, Lithography, 1968