I heard an interesting interview with Nicholas Carr recently on CBC radio’s Spark. A little nugget from the discourse that stuck with me was about our human predisposition to having a lack of concentrated focus. From a prehistoric perspective, it doesn’t suit survival very well to be too focused on any one thing. Because, as Carr was saying in the interview, you’ve got to be on the lookout for predators and make sure you don’t “overlook that nice berry bush”, so we’re constantly distracted.

I like this notion. Especially during days when I find my focus to be a little off. It’s a good excuse. Roaming through a bunch of ideas in my mind and not being able to decide which one to focus on can feel a bit like a failing. But I suppose in those instances I just haven’t found the nicest berry bush to work on.

What interested me more about Carr’s notion was actually the flip side to this. I began thinking, if our natural state is to be distracted, that just makes times of extreme focus - like, say, actually writing a screenplay - all the more astonishing. And I don’t like feeling distracted. I like bringing everything home to the fine point of focus it takes to write… Man, I would have been eaten alive in the jungle!

I wonder if the more focused you are when you’re focused, the more disorientating the distractions when you’re between periods of focus. It can sure feel like that. But maybe that’s what it takes to stumble on a new idea. Extremes over mediocrity. Maybe.

I’d contemplate this some more but it requires more focus than I can spare at the moment. I need to go gather some berries… And sprinkle them on my cereal.

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