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Sunday, October 23, 2011

How Clarity Comes Not From Hyper-focus, But From The Opposite

"Fog is a meteorological phenomenon caused by a supersaturation of the air, so that it can no longer hold water vapor." ~ WiseGeek

The fact that I'm opening my blog with this quote indisputably evinces the fact that, yes, I am a dork. But this morning, I opened my front door to a blanket of fog on my lawn. It was eerie and beautiful, but precluded clarity.

I couldn't help but see it as a metaphor for life. You've probably said, "I'm in a fog," or "my brain is foggy." This is sometimes attributed to lack of sleep or caffeine. But, in fact, we often find ourselves in a fog because of a supersaturation in our brains. Too many obligations, too much social networking, too much media. With the constant input that bombards our brains, they sometimes freeze, and a fog results. We can't think of that guy's name or remember why we walked into a room.

While a nap or a cup of coffee can help fogginess sometimes, it's usually a brisk walk outside, an hour of unstructured play with our kids, or the singular focus required of a good book that burns off the fog. And it does eventually burn off. Just as the morning sun rises and sears the fog lingering on our grass, moments of mental respite rejuvenate us and help us clear our minds of the clutter.

In writing, I often get bogged down by the swirling elements of fiction: characters, plot, setting, dialogue, meaning. When I try to write or edit a piece with all of these things in front of me, my mind shuts down. What is so affectionately referred to as "writer's block" can set in, which frustrates all writers. But the harder we try to push through it, the more it resists and the heavier the fog becomes. With writing, school work, family dynamics and relationships, we can't always force the solution because the fog that envelopes us precludes one. We must instead step back, close our eyes, and allow our minds to re-boot. But in order to re-boot, you must first Shut Down.

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