Clarity. Ah, Clarity.

Wanderer Above The Sea Of Fog by Caspar David Friedrich

So as I was saying in my last blog, I have been purposely diminishing the use of my iPhone in an attempt to get some focus back inside my brain. Well, I’m not sure that I actually have a lot of focus back, but I found something else—clarity.

You might argue that these are very similar things. Merriam-Webster might even argue with me on the same point. Focus: a state or condition permitting clear perception or understanding. Clarity: the quality or state of being clear. These sound very similar. What you don’t see are the 11 other definitions for the noun “focus,” plus the 7 definitions for the verb.

Focus is a verb to me, even as a noun. It implies action, work, doing something. Clarity is more observational than participatory, and it’s usually not as attractive to me because of that. I frequently find myself in a cloud of dust caused by the flurry of my own activity. From time to time, I also find myself teetering precariously on the edge of a cliff that I couldn’t see for the aforementioned cloud of dust. I very rarely find myself running off of the cliff like Wile E. Coyote, but I’ve been there, and I don’t suspend in mid-air, I just drop.

My point is, when I’m in the cloud, I always feel like I’m getting somewhere. The problem is, I can’t see where I’m going.

I like this painting. I want to be this guy. Not all the time, maybe just once a week. I can’t abandon my cloud—it’s where I live, at least right now. But I can stick my head out every so often and get my bearings back. I’ve had a chance to look around lately, and what I see is something that I’ve badly needed to see. I’ve gotten a lot done in the last year or so, I’m really pleased with all that I’ve accomplished, and I desperately needed to pause and appreciate it for a moment—just take a look around and enjoy the view. Turns out it’s the most productive thing I’ve done in awhile.

Focus? What Focus?

Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Wait, what were we talking about?

Man, what a couple of weeks. Or it could have been a month, or even two months. I’m used to being busy—I even thrive on it. As it happens, though, the ability to quickly shift gears and work on several different major projects is no match for a total and simultaneous onslaught from every angle and dimension known to man. So right now, I am actually mentally exhausted, which doesn’t happen to me very often, and it has lowered my physical defenses quite a bit.

The first thing to go is my focus. Focus is not something that I was ever particularly good at when I was younger, but in the last ten years or so, I’ve learned a thing or two that has helped me improve. Maybe it has something to do with my actual vision. Since I’m far-sighted, I only need help when I’m looking at something near me, like a computer screen or a book. It seems kind of obvious to me when I think about it that way. Maybe it’s hard for me to focus because it’s hard for me to focus. My prescription glasses offer a pretty subtle change of the landscape, but it may be enough that my brain is able to hang around a little longer. I’m not wearing them right now, so I don’t know. Am I having a hard time focusing? Where did I leave my glasses? What’s for dinner? I have to go to the grocery. I certainly could use some new socks. Have I gotten any new e-mail? What was I talking about?

I have made a decision to help me through this temporary crisis, based on my own observation of my own behavior over the last week or two. I know that I might not be the most unbiased source of good data, but CitySearch doesn’t have a section for “Behavioral Science” yet, so I’m all I’ve got. At any rate, I will be placing a serious but not impossible limit on how much I use my iPhone. I love my iPhone, and I think it’s a nearly perfect Swiss Army knife-like communication tool for humans today. But I think that I am beginning to abuse it’s incredible ease of use at great detriment to my time. When I am using it to check and see if communication has happened more than I am using it to actually communicate, then I have crossed the line into crazy land. I’ve been hanging out with my daughter at various playgrounds in the area lately, and I’m always appalled at how many parents are absorbed by their phones the whole time their kids are playing. I was so annoyed by it on my last visit, I called three people while she was playing to complain about it and feel better about myself as a parent, and then I got on the internet to see if there were any news articles or blogs about this becoming a growing trend.

Like I said, crazy land.

So for the next stretch, if you call or e-mail or text me, or Facebook me, or comment or like or share or follow or friend- or fan-request or tweet or re-tweet me, or if you send me a Spotify playlist, or Ping me, or GoogleChat or Google+ or AIM me, and I don’t respond immediately using the same or any interfacing platform, don’t be alarmed. I’m going to be spending some more time back in the traditional four dimensions of the planet Earth. I will finally get to finish writing those three new songs that are almost done. I’ve even started reading a couple of books. I had almost forgotten how much fun that is.