I’m intrigued by some comments on yesterday’s post about the possible causes of waning concentration. (And no, this isn’t a test today.)
“It is not only in reading that I find myself getting antsy, but in nearly everything I do. Dusting is done in short bursts because I get bored quickly now and have to quit for awhile.”
Chancy of driftwoodinspiration agrees:
"Where I get distracted is in doing housework or straightening up my home. I find myself flitting from one task to another without finishing one completely. I might get distracted and wander out on my porch or sit and read something in a magazine or make a phone call or whatever."
Me too. Even if I discount the inherently mind-numbing nature of house cleaning, which I can easily abandon in mid-task, I’m less capable these days of making the concentrated effort to finish.
But it’s not just the boring chores. Especially in warm weather, dinner is often what a friend and I years ago named “gorilla salad.” Some of anything hanging around in the refrigerator gets thrown in and it’s not uncommon for there to be 15 or 20 ingredients: vegetables, fruit, a left-over piece of chicken or fish, some crumbled cheese, and so on.
I enjoy preparing food in all its aspects, weighing the combination of flavors, textures and colors as I go and, in the case of gorilla salad, contemplating what dressing I might concoct this time. However, a couple of evenings ago, part way through the preparation, it seemed more boring than I could endure to wash, dry and cut up the radishes, so I put them back in the refrigerator. But really, what's so onerous about prepping a radish or two?
Other times, on shopping trips, I’ve skipped the final stop or two, even for what I need, because there is suddenly something I’d rather do at home. And it’s not unlikely, when I get there, that I become otherwise distracted and never get to it.
This boredom with ordinary tasks feels similar to the attention deficit we discussed yesterday, but I don’t know for certain that it is.
Pamela left a note about preferring a handwritten journal:
“I thought about this topic recently in the context of keeping handwritten v. electronic journals. It's occurred to me now that the reason I prefer the former is the lack of distraction and time to contemplate, unlike sitting in front of a screen and agitating about other things to do on the PC.”
I had kept handwritten journals until I got my first computer in about 1988, when I happily switched to electronic because, for me, handwriting is too slow. My mind often moved faster than my hand and I’d lose the thought. Typing, I can keep up with my mind, but Pamela reminded me of a related issue:
Now that there is so little that requires pen and paper (I don’t even need to write checks anymore), I’ve discovered that I can barely write at all. I’ve lost the motor skills needed to make handwriting readable and I sometimes struggle to translate my own notes.
Elderbloggers may be the last generation that was taught to have a “beautiful hand.” Remember the loops we practiced in school above and below the line, large ones and small, round and oval? I recall that it took a long time for me to create a capital T that satisfied the teacher.
Good handwriting, in my youth and young adulthood, was a point of pride. People commented on it – admiringly or otherwise. Before the advent of ballpoint pens, care was taken to select the proper fountain pen and nibs for different purposes. Ink color mattered and engraved, personal stationery was a social asset.
No more, at least as far as I can tell. Condolence notes may be the last kind of message that is gauche to send by email.
It feels like we may have lost something in ditching handwriting for a keyboard. But, the world turns, technology advances and things change. All-in-all, it probably doesn’t matter.
[At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Granny Annie recalls the miracle of Little Owen.]