I recently found a notebook that I stashed in a backpack last summer. I’m not sure when or where I received the notebook (probably from a book fair), only that I was negligent with it, having only written on a few pages. The binding of the notebook has since fallen off, which got me to thinking about the things that hold us together.
This obviously did not happen from wear and tear, but given factors such as quality, the haphazard way I probably threw it in the backpack, and any number of scientific reasons why cardboard paper falls apart, it was probably bound to happen (pun’s intention to be determined). What I’m left thinking about now is how fragile the notebook has become and just how we choose material with which to secure the loose pieces of our lives.
Without a binder, paper is free to be loose leaf; without an anchor, a ship is free to flow with the ocean,; without a bra, our breasts are free to just hang out, right? And what about our thoughts and our feelings? The most loosely flowing immaterial things that keep us distracted by day and awake at night, what is there to anchor these most unattached pieces of ourselves?
I’ve been measuring, and when I’m working I think my attention span is at a solid 5 minutes without interruption on a good day. (For reference, it’s taken me about four hours to get this far in this article) I’ve noticed that I follow every thought, and I follow every feeling even if for a moment before I convince myself to return to the task at hand. “I should find a tattoo artist for this elephant tattoo…let me check on the t-shirt design…my taxes…did I finish writing that song…I’m hungry…email alert.” It’s a wonder we get anything done with everything that ought to be done in any given day. The tricky part is that when we do follow some of these thoughts and feelings, they lead us down a rabbit hole of inactivity and we’re left floating for floating’s sake.
I suspect that in order to make the thoughts and the feelings work to your benefit, you have to anchor it or give it a name, and essentially you have to set an intention for it. It’s that whole, you verb the noun, don’t let the noun verb you sentiment. So how do we do that? Well, for me it’s been finding a focus point and how I can make the thoughts and the feelings serve a common purpose in my life. In general, I know my focal point has always been literature, and so most of my intention-setting is about how has this thought/feeling come to serve my purpose in literature. Is it here to inspire me to write something? Is it here to teach me something? Is it here to call me to something else? Once I begin to observe the trajectory of the thoughts and feelings, they no longer hold the power to separate me from myself by taking me on never-ending trips through the abyss of my mind. It seems a bit abstract, but the binder that holds me together is not just the apropos “book” but it’s the conviction of my “observant” self who collects the loose leaves of my mind’s activity.
What holds you together? It doesn’t have to be so esoteric, as anchors can be religion, jobs, family, hobbies, so many things. The point is to have a point in which you can go back and say, “Ah yes, this is where this stream of thought or consciousness was taking me back to, and this is how it was doing it.” I hope that we all find our anchors and the things that keep us together.