And really, is there anything harder?
Raw talent is an incredible thing. It empowers us to realize that we are capable of special things that other mortals are not. There are those with the capacity for scientific ingenuity. Some are capable of great artistic undertakings. Others may be able to solve problems that have confounded the world for generations. Yet only a choice few make it beyond the stage of raw talent and bring their special skills and abilities to the forefront of our collective reality.
It is relatively easy to lose focus. It is relatively easy to be distracted by pigeons gathering at a fountain. To sit and pull tendrils of thought out of your mind and give them a concrete essence is tough. Cleaning the house is easier. Taking your car to the bikini car wash and oogling the sorority girls is much more entertaining. Taking a job assembling boxes at a local factory and drinking a twelve pack at the saloon following each shift is an easier way to put life's station wagon on cruise control until you reach your exit ramp.
Come on now and
Bring it all down
Don't fear the setting sun
Thy will be done
Find out who you really are
Join your hands with your mind
Different people have different standards of success. When your personal standard is above the norm and you know you have the tools to reach a higher plateau, that is when you need to find your focus. Thousands of thoughts are racing through your head at this very moment. You find it difficult to catalog and contain them. This keeps you from focusing on that which you wish to focus. Stray thoughts bump in and dance around. These are the thoughts that make you want to go to the all nude car wash. These are the thoughts that make you want to buy a bottle of Scotch and sit on a park bench talking to pigeons.
Later that same evening...
...he cursed himself for wasting time
Some things are more fulfilling when done on a lark. Other things are more interesting when they don't conform to the regular streets and avenues of our best intentions. It isn't that much different from the days when you poured over your textbooks while watching the other kids sledding down Damnation Hill. Many of us live in a world where immediate gratification is promoted as the "way to go." You can get credit for doing a three minute project on the job. You might get more credit for a six week long project, but there is always the chance it won't work out that way. So, we lose focus in order to leap up and get the cookie grandma is holding out to us.
If you want to get drunk
Cheap cans of beer are an easier route...
than collecting vintage French wines.
There is almost always something that you are better at than the average streetwalker, just as there is always something she is better at than you (don't spend too much time analyzing this statement). The first step to focus is realizing what that special something is. Collecting garbage can be an art form, just as much as painting the ceiling of a random cathedral in Europe. It all depends on your perspective. The focus is not necessarily on finding what will make you world renown and get you invited to awards ceremonies. The focus may just be on finding your niche in life and taking that niche to its fullest potential. The main reason no one considers garbage collectors to be artists is that none of them have done it with any observable flair... or if they have no one has really given a crap.
No one said I'm special.
But I guess I kinda am.
Focus means checking your paperwork before taking the easy way out. Of course, the easiest way out is quitting. Quitters never get to drink gin. Quitters end up living in a little room in the back of their mind called regret. If you can reasonably ascertain that you have the ability for greatness in a given field, then you must find the focus and stay with the focus, because the further you wander off the path of focus, the harder it is to bring it back into focus. Try looking at a random star sometime and then spin the telescope, down three shots of tequila and then try to find the star again. Unless you are some kind of astronomy oriented person who has maps of delineations and that sort of thing (which I know nothing about because my telescope fell out of a third story window when I was eight), then you will see how hard it is to regain focus.
Note: The lack of focus in this writeup seems ironic.
On purpose or by accident?
Whining is the weapon of choice amongst the young and capable who don't see any reason why they should labor for years at their craft in order to attain true recognition. They keep one finger on the "I Quit" button and the rest on the keyboard of automatic excuses. If something doesn't make the cut, it is due to the stupidity of the powers that be, it cannot have anything to do with a lack of experience and focus. Remember all that crap about Rome not being built in a day?
Today's Special Parable: I used to belong to this weird writer's group. Like many it consisted of a bunch of people who thought they were important because they knew how to use four syllable words in sentences. One young lad, who was eighteen years old, had just finished a novel he had worked on for the past year. It had been rejected by a dozen different publishers. He wanted to know why not one of these publishers could recognize the fact that he had written the greatest novel of the modern era. He passed his manuscript around the group and as usual they all muttered "mmm, very nice work" and "I love the way you write." Many warm, unfocused sentiments were tossed his way. He submitted it some more, received more rejections, and then tossed the manuscript in the trash (it was called The Matrix and it was about a computer generated reality within the existing reality, but that isn't really important) and went home and cried. He believed that the world had rejected him in the one thing he felt he had a talent for. He never read the rejection letters, he just glanced over them looking for acceptance. Instead of showing a willingness to grow his talent and focus it, he saw only rejection and failure. For years he stopped writing and for years he cheated himself of expressing his passion. It took him a long time to recover and to focus himself, mostly because the sting of pride made quitting easier than learning to focus. Well, I won't tell you who that eighteen year old fool was. That would be giving myself away.
Without focus you bounce all over life's radar screen, dropping a little blip there and a little blip here. The emptiness grows, because once you know you have the capacity for something, it hurts to give it up. It isn't much different than losing a true love to the earthquakes of time. The love and the passion stays, even as the pen or the brush or the ideas get pushed aside. You have to learn to focus and to make love to your abilities. Someday I hope to learn, because we never really do. We can only try. Focus is as elusive as a raindrop in the ocean, but passion can make that raindrop into a mighty wave.
Dedicated to those with talent everywhere
Who are one step away
If only they could focus...