Focus – except when it suggests monomaniacal behaviour – is generally considered an advantage. It reputedly enhances intensity (which I suppose is axiomatic) and – what is likely just as significant by default – it eliminates distracting fluff. While I have never been inclined to cultivate a wide and contemporaneous view of the world (preferring instead to remain centered on one thing at a time) I nonetheless fashion that my interests are catholic. I subscribe to a curiosity in almost anything given the opportunity. But one thing is certain, I prefer to remain focussed if only because my inherent concentration dilutes the product when the absorption is spread too thinly. What governs my so-called discernment is my predisposition; specifically, I am not persuaded by the rapture of others to adopt any particular concentration. When it comes to my personal decisions I decide what and when.
The implementation of this calculation is at times an unharmonious reality, not one I can say I am especially proud of. For example, if the subject of contemplation is not one in which I have an immediate interest, or if I am presently engaged in another consuming occupation, I lean towards unambiguous dismissal (the technological equivalent of “Trash”). I don’t for example care much for “Archive”. It’s “In”, “Out” or “Trash”, more critical than “Junk” which can imply mere mischaracterization.
It is an unfortunate corollary to living with one’s inadequacies that in order to be content one must adopt as superlative the limitations of one’s routine performance. That’s why I always excuse my precipitousness – it’s strictly pragmatic. The object isn’t simply to elevate one’s short-comings but rather to embrace them gleefully (such as they are). A moment’s reflection reveals the absurdity of imagining that we have the strength to digest whatever comes our way howsoever intellectually inspiring. Really! Instead we have a narrow window of perspective through which we are enabled to speculate. The deferral to this less than rhapsodic limitation is tolerable with age prompted as it is by a veneer of wisdom and Devil be Damned! The privilege of insolence is however not to be diminished particularly when it is conveniently couched in the vernacular of cultivated life-long conclusions. There is an authenticity to maturity, whether right or wrong, like the patina of an old oak table.
I don’t think any one of us has any difficulty identifying who or what interests us (and if we do we owe to ourselves to stop to figure it out). What is more problematic is how to stay the course. The choices are theoretically limitless. My personal decision has been to preserve at least some modesty in the advancement of my agenda. I want to avoid being entirely offensive. That means primarily that I resist the temptation to snap my fingers at what others do or say and content myself to withdraw into the chrysalis of my own making. I am just not up to being either transparent or pedantic on what is most often a relatively casual level of communication with others.
Lest there be any confusion on that point I hasten to add that my model of behaviour is nothing more than that – mine. It is by no means a template for others, much less an ideal standard. This is not after all an uncompromising religion. In fact without being disparaging about myself I can say that I have never considered my accomplishment in life as noteworthy other than to the extent that I have accepted my lot with a good deal of welcome and unqualified gratitude. But this doesn’t deter me from distinguishing my preferences from the sea of possibilities.
By the same token I have had to learn to distance myself from what at times are the overwhelming aspirations of others, a tactical prejudice one must willingly suffer in the spirit of survival. Doubtlessly from time to time I have mistakenly harboured the necessity to empathize with others, to allow their dilemmas to insinuate my cozy sphere, to feel an onus to engage and sometimes to act. This however is equivalent to delineating why one loves someone, a doomed exploit. If the motivation isn’t there au naturel so to speak, deferring to it is a reckless and deceitful after-thought. Just more Trash! There are some people with whom I have about as much in common as with an Evangelist (and about as much inclination). I have no intention of confusing my focus with the fateful myopia of a squirrel crossing a road.
The line between discrimination and “all about me” risks becoming blurred. I naturally admire philanthropy and selflessness. This constitutes an acceptable exclusion to the general thesis of independent thought. Some conditions are just too catastrophic to ignore for fear of drowning in pathos. Implementing a useful strategy for targeted collaboration in the lives of others is a challenge, preserving the balance of support and condescension. Beyond that tact the normal interaction between people is effectively governed by an unrefined scheme of association. A preferable gambit may be the account of the tales of fortune and misfortune of others. It is less obviously contaminated and infused with personal design (and it affords a convenient barrier to full disclosure).