Hocus, Pocus, Focus

I don’t know if it’s that I’m moving ever nearer to that psychologically significant boundary line between my forties and my fifties (I’ll turn 50 in November), or that summer is upon us here in the Northeast, or that I am on circuit overload, but this week I just haven’t been able to get up a good head of steam for a substantial blog post, and thus have stayed silent.

It’s been quite a while since a whole five days have gone by without my posting a single word.

It’s not that I’m not thinking.  And I am certainly keeping abreast of events out in the wide world.

But instead of the steady churning of thoughts and the relentless input of news raising my hackles and prompting me to send another blog-post-bottle out into the high internet seas, I just feel like pulling the covers over my head and rolling over for another hour of sleep.

I find myself longing for a silent weekend retreat, in which I had no access to the internet or phone, and no one around who expected me to speak or respond.

If I could have some good quiet time, maybe I could focus my thoughts, ideas and projects, and figure out which of them are worth carrying with me, and which can be jettisoned.

Perhaps that goes with the time of life I’m in, where every moment seems precious and limited, and you know that you really don’t have that much time to accomplish everything you came here to do in this lifetime.

If I could just figure out where to pour my energies and talents, I have no doubt that I could be very successful—with my success measured not necessarily in money or goods, but in positive impact on the planet.

That is what I am most trying to figure out right now.  Where should I be funneling my limited time and energy?

Generally speaking, there seem to be four spheres in which I am operating at all times, simultaneously:

  • the very up-close-and-personal realm, where my thoughts revolve around such mundane but important matters as my responsibilities to my two sons and the rest of my family, endless house and garden maintenance issues, and how I’d like to reconnect with such-and-such friend next week;
  •  the professional realm, where I am wondering what the outcome will be of my current contract review, feeling guilty because I am months behind in the essay I promised an anthology editor a year ago, pondering how to teach my classes scheduled for the fall, and wishing that I had the drive to get up at 5 a.m. and work on my book project;
  • the broader community, regional and national realm, where I am thinking about how to encourage the adoption of solar panels in my town, wondering about the impact of the new immigration legislation on friends and students, and concerned about the prospect of rabid Republicans gaining control of all three centers of power in Washington, and wondering how I can support both the Democrats and their more radical critics, whose platform is much closer to my heart;
  •  and then there’s the planetary realm, where I see with such pain the big picture of how destructive human beings are to every other life form on Earth, and ask myself how long it will be before the planet gives a big methane burp and sends us all to over-heated hell.

Is it any wonder, with all this (and much more!) churning through my mind day after day, that I end up just wanting to tune out and sit on my porch with a glass of wine on a summer evening and CHILL OUT?

I envy people who can focus all their energy in any one of these spheres.

I seem to be an incorrigible multitasker, and I know it’s not particularly healthy for me, or productive for my goals.

If there is one thing I really want to work on in the coming decade of my fifties, it’s learning how to prioritize tasks, concentrate my energy and GO!

Leave a comment


  1. This is a very personal post and if I would feel qualified to answer any of your questions I would answer them privately — and I would feel entitled to answer the questions only if I would be asked personally.

    One point of your post though transcends the private realm. You wrote: “…wondering how I can support both the Democrats and their more radical critics…”

    Do you recommend to vote for Democratic politicians or follow the advice of most critics to vote for third party candidates, “write-in” candidates, or not at all? Do you recommend voting for Barrack Obama?

  2. Martin Lack

     /  June 16, 2012

    Hi Jennifer. You are a little way ahead of me physically (I am 47) but not mentally (I have been struggling with this kind of stuff for at least 30 years). 30 years ago I began to be worried about global warming. In environmental consultancy for much of the last 20 years I have been beset my persistent discomfort regarding clients seeking to minimise their expenditure and maximise their profits. Then in the last 2 years, it is as if the two sides of my brain finally got acquainted with each other. Humanity is trashing the planet and won’t stop even though it now knows it is the cause of all our growing environmental problems… I am feeling more and more unemployable by the minute!

    Good luck with resolving who to vote for. If I were you, I would view the Republicans and Democrats as both equally intellectually dishonest (one is lying to you about the environment the other about economics). However, given that a Republican POTUS would currently appear likely to hasten a global environmental catastrophe, I do not see that you have a choice: In a first-past-the-post election, a vote for any Independent is not a protest – it is a wasted vote. The people of Egypt are in a similar position. It is a long way from perfect; but it is better than living in an undemocratic dictatorship like North Korea (I think).

    • Jennifer Browdy de Hernandez

       /  June 16, 2012

      Yes, Mato and Martin, I do plan to vote for Obama as the far lesser of two evils. I remember when progressive Americans were excited about trying to get Ralph Nader in, and the serious push for a third party only ended up splitting the vote for Gore and giving us 8 years of Bush. We can’t afford to have the Republicans controlling the White House as well as the Supreme Court and the House of Representatives! It would be a scary disaster in the making–as the years from 2000-2008 were. So supporting the Democrats, and then pressuring them to do the right thing for the environment and the planet, looks like the only option to me. I am too jaded, it seems, to believe in revolution.

  3. leavergirl

     /  June 17, 2012

    Martin, I am saddened by your response. The ‘Gyptians have been screwed. Again. Isn’t it funny (not ha ha) how abused people (and that would be most of us) are always telling themselves that things could be worse?

    Oh yeah, Jennifer, those scary Republicans. They sowed ruin in their wake… and the Democrats continued without breaking stride… but somehow, we must brace ourselves and carry on with their support, because, well, those scary Republicans! Hah. What silliness.

    “If voting made a difference, they’d make it illegal.” — How come Emma Goldman understood this 100 years ago, and smart caring people such as yourselves still do not?

    I maintain that *not voting* is the only meaningful move left. You can go pinch your noses and pretend the stench is better over there with the donkey. Happy habeas corpus nullified! Happy bailouts of the too big too jail! Happy lies and hopey-changey propaganda!

    Do yourselves a favor and figure this out. Where is your line? Where exactly is your integrity? How badly do the Dems need to behave for you to finally say no?


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