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Scattered Thoughts On Hyperfocused Work
It has been 2 weeks since I last posted. The title of this says it all. Wearing my theatre director/production manager hats I am in hyperfocus mode, with all the tunnel vision of getting this done - and done well.
At the end of the days' work (about 10.30 at night) I emerge from the well, poking my head up into the world outside and immediately I am scattered. All the 'not dones' from outside of this well, scatter themselves over me like a ream of paper pulled apart and tossed into the room. Notes about medical bills, check registers to update, a half-worked script languishing under the weight of the current script, friends to respond to, poetry to write, a horse to exercise, birthday cards to send - and so it goes.
I flit from one fluttering page to another, jot down an idea, check off something, add another to the list of 'to do'. Unbidden, breaking into that scattered universe, the Hyperfocus beam pulls me back into the Work, with a new idea, a solution, an urgent To Do! So, a new note is made there.
The only escape is into space-place beyond thought - where I have no task, no responsibility for outcome, but am not insulted nor bored. It can be a run in the forest, along the lake, although thought can happen there too, leading to repeating an idea over and over as I run so as not to forget the Aha! The most complete escape is usually a perfect old British series like 'Inspector Morse'. There I let go, neither scattered nor hyperfocused, but engaged enough to actually rest.
“It's not the destination, it's the journey” the quote famously attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson, has been my longtime mantra. I pack my car with camping gear, half look at a map and set off, with an 'I'll be there by about' date, a few hot-spring markers, no booked hotels and a bag of trail mix on the passenger seat.
Today, in the midst of putting together a live show set to open on October 6th (a destination if ever there was one), I am not so sure about the 'it's the journey' bit. In this context my job is bringing together all the elements - from the playwright's words, creating in collaboration with musicians, costumers, set builders, projection and light designers and most of all actors - and keeping my eye on the prize.
It looks scattered to an outsider, but it is the hyperfocus that allows me do all that - hold center, keep the story flowing, each element connecting to its place. It's all the stuff outside that bubble that flutters, untethered, in the winds of 'later'.
In my Director Notes for the program, I wrote, "The role of stage director of a brand-new show—complete with projections, live music, and sound effects—is like dancing in fire on a freezing night during a hurricane! The collaborative creative endeavor requires of the participants an agreement to reach the goal (a play opens with all the parts in balance) as best we can, taking risks and engaging one another with respect. "
I love 'the journey is the destination' approach to travel, where some scatteredness is a plus. I thrive on the Hyperfocus of the collaborative creative endeavor, juggling hats, zeroing in on the details and back out to the overview again in a matter of seconds. The two pathways in my life feed each other. Right now, I am in Hyperfocus mode while the other pieces are floating, caught briefly when time and thought allows.
Today a little window into the outside world opened and so here I am. I've enjoyed the respite, and now back to the script, the production list, and preparing for the next rehearsal. Hyperfocus coming into view, the other world slipping a universe away. I'm good with that, it'll be there when I next emerge. I hope that you will be there too.
photo by author
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