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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Lists and lapses

OK, I admit it. I am having a terrible problem - focusing on one task at a time. I mean, a really, really bad one. I'm a bloody disgrace. No other phrase for it....
   I don’t know if this happens to you, but a friend was saying how he sometimes starts out to bring in the garbage bins, notices a branch hanging down too far, so gets the pruning secateurs, then starts to fix a loose screw holding the letterbox in place, and before he knows it, has about six things on the go at once. Two hours later, he ambles back inside, and the garbage bins are still out there on the footpath.
   Oh come on, don’t try to tell me he and I are the only people in the world who do things like that. You don’t fool me.
   Right now for me it’s not about those outside jobs (though I dearly wish it were!), but ones where I’m doing no more than sitting in front of the computer. 
   For example, I have just started writing this. That was after I wanted to have a look at what ‘lists’ I had scanned in from Sei Shonagon before we went away to the Coast. My short-term memory is such that I have forgotten what I have included in the blog (a friend refers to it as the ‘blob’. I like that. It is a blob really). So I go to the desktop of the computer and see some screenshots should be put in a folder, and do that. Then I forget why I went to the desktop in the first place, and go back to the Word doc I had open to see what it was.
   Better do a Save of the Word doc so far, just in case some weird thing happens and Word locks up. It does that now and again, but only when it’s really critical of course. NO!!! I chose SAVE when I meant to save it as another document! I have changed some things on the original I’ve now lost, but wait – I have my backup on the other internal drive so it’s OK. But then, I didn’t back up last week before we went away. Better check. My program that syncs backups is brilliant – as long as I use it. I better do another sync after I recover that file as it was. And do a proper Save As with this doc. 
   Twenty minutes later, back on track - wherever that track was leading to....
   The Pillow Book. This makes me want to do an OCR scan of a few other pages from the Pillow Book. I start reading that. Oy! Back to the task in hand – well one of them at least. So now the book’s sitting on the scanner. Now I have to open Photoshop and Omnipage, and while they’re opening I check the news on an excellent news gathering program I have. 
   Wow! So much is happening... ‘NATO oil tankers attacked in Pakistan’ – what’s that about? ‘AOL to buy the Huffington Post’? Pity... that used to be a good read, though it was already selling its soul before AOL got to it. ‘Aussie sundial puts Stonehenge in shade’ - gotta read that..... All this time I have two replies open to important letters I must respond to but needed to go to Google to check something. By this time I have forgotten what that was. FaceBook is open on another page and someone has written something new on the newsfeed.... And those replies I wanted to do on the Blob, are there any more? STOP IT!!!!
   And I want another cup of green tea. Tracey said last night there’s some jasmine tea that’s been in the cupboard for a while. She’s left it out for me. She leaves everything out for me so I can take medications and eat early in the morning, me being the early riser. Every item, easy to use, placed perfectly for one-handed, left-handed operations. The jasmine tea is there, but when I open it, it’s actually in a sealed cellophane packet. 
   Such things are impossible to open one-handed. I need the kitchen scissors to open it. They aren’t there. Probably in the dishwasher. I don’t want to clank around in there and wake the household. I’ll just use the last of the ‘Curly Cloud’ green tea instead.
   Idiot! You could just have gone to the study and got scissors there but you didn’t think of that, did you? There’s at least five pairs there. I’m having some of the jasmine tea now. But the Curly Cloud has had its diuretic effect so a trip to the bathroom is in order. Quietly now. Don’t shamble round too much. Hell’s bells. More emails have come in. It’s 9.30 am already! I want to rest. And what have I actually accomplished?
   Does anyone see there is a bit of a flaw in my procedure for accomplishing tasks here? I am actually doing a couple of other things as well I haven’t mentioned (seriously!) but this is getting beyond embarrassing and boring for us both, isn’t it? You get the idea – I won’t carry on any more about it. Much.
   Focus, dumbo. One thing at a time. Finish it and move on. It’s a miracle I have written this much without going somewhere else.
   (Well, I did, but just once. OK, twice....)  Mmmm – don’t you love the smell of jasmine tea? It reminds me of being in Guilin, Urumqi, Shanghai. Even Honkers. (Hong Kong, of course....)
   FOCUS!! There’s an extra bit of the Pillow Book that scanned in on the page with this funny little list, but I decided to leave it here for you. Enjoy it, though they’re a woosy lot, aren’t they? You so earned it if you got this far with my diatribe....


   ... men, apparently travelling incognito, arrived while I was there. They were elegantly dressed in cherry‑blossom and willow robes, and they looked very distinguished with the ends of their laced trousers neatly tucked up and fastened. They were accompanied by a very proper‑looking attendant, who held an attractively decorated bag of provisions. Their page‑boys, who carried flowering branches of cherry blossom, wore hunting costumes of plum red and bright green, with varicoloured under‑robes and skirts printed with scattered patches of colour. Also in their party was a slender retainer, who looked extremely attractive as he beat the gong at the entrance to the temple....
   Whenever I go to stay in a temple, or indeed in any new place, it seems pointless to be accompanied only by servants. One needs a few companions of one's own class with whom one can chat congenially. There may be some suitable women even among one's maids; the trouble is that one knows all too well what they are going to say. Gentlemen appear to have the same idea; for I notice that whenever they go on a pilgrimage they take along a few agreeable companions.
   Things That Give a Hot Feeling
   The hunting costume of the head of a Guards escort.
   A patchwork surplice.
   The Captain in attendance at the Imperial Games.
   An extremely fat person with a lot of hair.
   A zither bag.
   A Holy Teacher performing a rite of incantation at noon in the Sixth or Seventh Month. Or at the same time of the year a copper‑smith working in his foundry.



  1. So is that why I've been feeling hot (and it's not my zither bag).

    As for companions, I agree, all the servants can become tiresome..

    AS for 'lists and lapses', did you write this purposefully to make me feel more normal? At the university, I have been described as 'scattered'. I wonder why?? So yes, it's not just you and your garbage bin friend (oh that doesn't sound nice..) but every person who at some time has put the scissors in the fridge. I know what I need -a list and a timetable :) Goes so against the grain....

  2. I'm a scatterbrain too.

  3. It's called multitasking. We're all supposed to be doing it, and it's driving us all nuts. I have bruises on my leg from an incident in which I was doing something on the computer, listening for the laundry so I could save the grey water, running the water in the kitchen sink for the dishes, and running the hose on a tired, dry plant. As I dashed from one task to the next, sink overflowing, grey water lost, tank nearly drained because I forgot about the plant, and just what was it I was doing on the computer?, I banged full speed ahead into the corner of a table. Howling, I realised this was not the way to live. One thing at a time. Be a Buddhist. Be here now, someplace else later.

    And yes, it is hot in a foundry, regardless of the time of year. That is one thing, and maybe the only thing, I know for sure.

  4. Very comforting for me to discover that nearly everyone's as bad as I am - or on their way.... friends and family both. With family then I can claim it's genes so not my fault. What's your excuse? :)

    Multitasking is for girls - we blokes know we can only do one thing at a time - we get told enough by the 'multitaskers'!

    'Be here now, someplace else later'.

    I think that is perfect. It should be on everyone's wall. I must print that out. Ah, printer's out of one colour - have to go to the shop. Hook for wall's in the garage. The lock's broken and that glass pane in the garage door needs fixing. Will need to get cash from the Credit Union.... but maybe I'll have a rest first. 'Be here now, someplace else later....'

    I love that!!

    Scatterbrain? How dare you, Dee.... I'm just a serial tasker.

  5. The Be here now; be someplace else later comes from:

    Jewish Buddhism -

    Take only what is given. Own nothing but your robes and an alms bowl. Unless, of course, you have the closet space.

    Let your mind be as a floating cloud. Let your stillness be as the wooded glen. And sit up straight. You'll never meet the Buddha with posture like that.

    There is no escaping karma. In a previous life, you never called, you never wrote, you never visited. And whose fault was that?

    Wherever you go, there you are. Your luggage is
    another story.

    To practice Zen and the art of Jewish motorcycle maintenance, do the following: Get rid of the motorcycle. What were you thinking?

    Learn of the pine from the pine. Learn of the bamboo from the bamboo. Learn of the kugel from the kugel.

    If there is no self, whose arthritis is this?

    Breathe in. Breathe out. Breathe in. Breathe out. Forget this, and attaining Enlightenment will be the least of your problems.

    The Tao has no expectations. The Tao demands nothing of others. The Tao does not speak. The Tao does not blame. The Tao does not take sides. The Tao is not Jewish.

    Drink tea and nourish life. With the first sip, joy. With the second, satisfaction. With the third, Danish.

    The Buddha taught that one should practice loving kindness to all sentient beings. Still, would it kill you to find a nice sentient being who happens to be Jewish?

    Be patient and achieve all things. Be impatient and achieve all things faster.

    In nature, there is no good or bad, better or worse. The wind may blow or not. The flowering branch grows long or short. Do not judge or prefer. Ask only, "Is it good for the Jews?"

    To Find the Buddha, look within. Deep inside you are ten thousand flowers. Each flower blossoms ten thousand times. Each blossom has ten thousand petals. You might want to see a specialist.

    Be here now. Be someplace else later. Is that so complicated?

    The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single oy.

    If you wish to know The Way, don't ask for directions. Argue.

    Zen is not easy. It takes effort to attain nothingness. And then what do you have? Bupkes.

    "Bupkes" means "nothing" in Yiddish


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