The Multi-tasking Snail

Elizabeth Zimmerman Quote

I am, at times, annoyingly slow in my progress. (This is attempt-at-writing-this-post #4. OK, now attempt #5..)  At some point, I became accustomed to multitasking, and now have a difficult time doing anything else. The issue with being able to walk, talk, and chew gum while carrying a 7lb purse, a giant cup of coffee, and a knitting project is that none of those things are being done particularly well. It all seems perfectly fine to begin with, but everything has a way of proceeding quickly to overwhelming. It begins simply with a stroll and a conversation over coffee. My purse starts to fall down my arm, so I hoist it on my shoulder; it lands on my hair which is then pulled along with my concentration. I trip on a crack in the sidewalk since I’m no longer looking in front of me and fling four dollars worth of latte all over my (hopefully cotton) yarn. My face screws up into a look of disappointment  just as I look up and realize my companion must have asked me a question of extreme concern I didn’t remotely hear, and the only response given is that horrid look on my face. Multitasking fail. The example is wacky, but not really an exaggeration. In my ambitious attempt to concentrate on everything, I lose focus on all of it. I have the motivation of beginning, yet can’t muster the enthusiasm needed to follow through. This translates into a bevy of unfinished posts, games, projects, unread books, and half-organized rooms, as I  try to make progress on all the things.

I found some inspiration in the quote pictured above from Elizabeth Zimmermann’s digressions in Knitting Around; if even she fell prey to the beginnings-only bug, it can’t be all bad.  Apparently people either love or hate the Opinionated Knitter, and I think I must be in with the former bunch. Her tone could be interpreted as condescending, I suppose, but I prefer to look at it as proper. I haven’t tried any of the patterns, just read through most of the instructions and the digressions. I am a bit fascinated by her life and her words as well as the patterns, and have even imagined what a conversation might be like. She might scoff at my (obviously inferior) throwing way of knitting until I explained I could purl almost as quickly. (I did learn them at practically the same time…) I’d chuckle at how much of a mad genius she is, even in little things like capitalization. Like her, I want to continue to Write Things Down; it might be important for me. When I held needles in hand I felt My Life Was Starting.  Unlike her, my habit of fizzling out cannot really be blamed on genetics, but on a self-imposed barrage of distractions.

I have recently started to notice where this focus fizzle begins. A lull, a rut presents itself, and I’d like to figure out how to push through. Video games may turn out to be my inspiration for a method.  I finally finished the RPG Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch. (Well, no plat trophy, but I beat the final boss…) RPG’s generally take me f-o-r-e-v-e-r for a few reasons. I am a video game snail (and not the only one according to fellow gamer/blogger Astro Adam’s post); I linger playing games in the same way I savor a piece of chocolate, as I don’t want them to end. I play too many games at once because something new and awesome came out or dropped in price while I was savoring, so I end up playing them all, progressing in none. (Just like WIPs! And reading blog posts instead of finishing mine!) The last thing that keeps me from actually finishing games is the point-of-no-return. Unless I’ve played the game before, I don’t quite know what lay in store for me in that final dungeon. Is my level high enough? Do I have enough potions, arrows, companions, spells?  How long until I am over-encumbered and cannot run? I end up grinding and researching for so long I lose excitement over the game. I never fight the final boss. I put off seaming, blocking, darning. I hesitate to press that little blue Publish button. My enthusiasm dwindles; the project at hand has lost its luster.

Victory is the key. There is resolve, accomplishment, competition, aggravation, yet the need to thrust hands in the air in that V of victory tends to outshine those other feelings. That pose is a major part of Amy Cuddy’s TED talk on body language. It can be used to communicate celebratory feelings to the world, or ones own brain. It is so universal a power pose that even humans born blind throw their arms up, their head back, face to the heavens, basking in victory. I did the pose, almost unthinkingly, after beating the third final boss in Ni No Kuni. Cuddy suggests to hold it for a solid two minutes, thereby shaping thoughts into confidant ones. I think I need to do this more…. So, in a minute or two when I hit the Publish button, again when all my ends are sewn in, and again when the house is vacuumed, I am going to stand up and reach for the sky and grin like an idiot, reign victoriously over my to-do list. If (and when) I get stuck in the lull, the grind, when the well runs dry,  I think I’ll try the Wonder Woman pose instead…