Wednesday, September 22


Okay, I'll admit it. I didn't do all that well in school. But it wasn't that I didn't try. I really wanted to succeed, every summer I even had grand illusions of being the best student in my class, and the thing is, in my heart I knew I was capable of achieving that goal. But then the year would start and the teacher would spread his or her wings and initiate that daily drone of words that would buzz around endlessly in my head and it wouldn't be long before I was...gone, baby, gone. It wasn't that I didn't understand the words or that I couldn't follow them to their rational conclusion, it's just that there were other forces at work.

I would sit quietly at my desk with a serious expression so stiff it might as well have been molded onto my face by a taxidermist. I'd try my best to project a facade of rapt attention and interest while underneath this ridgid surface unseen forces battled and wrestled for my consideration. I would gallantly try to fight these invaders with the aid of the teacher's magic words, focusing on the knowledge that they provided, knowing that each one was a special talisman that held the secrets to my success. But in the end they always proved to be too weak and ineffectual, a cross of words that didn't hold enough power to ward off the all-powerful, all-encompassing vampire of my active imagination.

I would follow the advice of others and diligently try to take notes, but over time they would eventually morph into something entirely different. Some distant power would slowly drift into my notebook like a fog, possessing my pencil, overwelming its graphite soul, finally pushing it to take flight, to drift and dream, to go in its own and separate direction. Stories would emerge from history notes. Intricate drawings would overwhelm scientific formulas and math worksheets. Riddles, jokes and observations would slip seamlessly into my biology notes turning the result into something very entertaining to read but not very useful when it came time to study for a fianal exam.

It's my belief that if I were growing up today things would be different. Maybe I'd be given a daily dose of Ritalin with my breakfast before leaving for school. Maybe I would have been sent to a specialist. But I grew up in a different time, a time when a hyper, unfocused kid was just that: a hyper, unfocused kid. You'd label him a troublemaker and make him sit in the corner or out in the hall. I spent a lot of time in the hall; it was much more interesting and I wasn't required to pay attention to anyone or anything. If you closed your eyes you could hear the heartbeat of the school. I invented games of miniature shuffleboard and hockey using pennies and pencils. I counted lights and tiles.

Even now I still have trouble focusing on the task at hand, my mind will wander through the waiter's reading of the specials, a google search will take me places I never intended to go, I'll drive past highway exists, I'll nod my head absently during conversations even though I haven't a clue what the other person was just talking about. I'll even lose interest in a program I was enjoying if the commercials run too long.

So yeah, school was tough for me. I'm not sure it had to be but that's the way it was. How about you? Does your mind ever walk out of a room before your body? Do your feet have a mind of their own?

Here's a little something from the kid in the back row with his head in the clouds:



Steve Finnell said...

you are invited to follow my blog

Drake Sigar said...

It’s like you’re talking about my life. Even harder to stay focused now that we’ve got so many more things to distract us. Before it was just breasts and TV, now it’s all about the social networking. Of course it doesn’t help that I have a really shot attent- ooo a squirrel!

Amanda Ashby said...

No matter how much I try and concentrate on taking notes I end up doodling over the entire pad. I had forgotten all about this habit until I started going to writer's conference and it was like I was right back at school and university!

Oh, and I can NEVER listen when people give me directions. There is just something in my brain that turns all those lefts and rights into complete mush and then I just have to hope like crazy that whoever is with me has a better attention span than I do!!!!

beck nicholas said...

i can concentrate... but i only if i multi task. i need to be drawing a complicated diamond pattern or flower or squiggle to pay attention to a lecture or it's my mind that wanders.