The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Monday, November 12, 2007

Lucidity and focus

“Genius is eternal patience.” -Michelangelo Buonarroti, sculptor, painter, architect, and poet (1475-1564)

Got the above today in my word-a-day email. And it relates directly to the core question of “talent.” I believe that the only real talent (in most cases) is the ability to focus your attention on one thing, until you’ve got it cold. Needless to say, this involves being able to deal with distraction, fatigue, fear, procrastination, and so forth. But this single skill can be developed separately from any particular application of the skill. And if you have achieved excellence anywhere in your life, you should be able to identify your capacity to focus in this arena, and then transplant it to another.

Of course, excessive focus can be destructive to your life—which is why I insist on BALANCE as the primary point of focus. True, if you’re competing with someone willing to trash their life to achieve a narrow-focus goal, they will out-perform you…in the short term. But slow and steady wins the race. They beat your pants off for the first year, but then as the rest of their lives become a train wreck, they are inevitably distracted…and that’s when you’ll creep past them. Life isn’t a spring. It’s more of a stroll, or a dance, or perhaps a jog. Choose the metaphor you like, but remember that there’s really nowhere to go. Have fun, get hugs, enjoy the ride.
Lucid dreaming came up in conversation yesterday. This relates to the question of “Awakening” which is important to the process of becoming an Adult, and certainly precursive to Enlightenment. If you’ve never experienced awakening within a dream, it is a stone trip, where you can experience any fantasy you wish: flying, punching out pre-op trannie Ann Coulter, whatever. But the most valuable thing is the ability to transfer this to waking life. The same “hyperawareness” experienced while lucid dreaming can be experienced in life itself, and it is amazing. The first step would be to wake up in the dream. One method for this is to ask yourself many times a day: “Am I dreaming now?” After you’ve done this a dozen times a day for a few weeks, I promise that one night you’ll be in the middle of a dream, and the dreaming you will ask the same question. And then, as they say, the fun begins…
Flying home today, thank God. Tomorrow I work on Dream Park, and in the evening, go out to UCI to have dinner with my precious Nicki. Then Wednesday, I get together with Larry Niven to work. Thursday I take off for Portland. I’ll be at Orycon over the weekend. If you’re going to be there, I’m planning a small party Saturday night, just to have a chance to see all my friends. If you’ll be there, hopefully we’ll see each other…


Nicole Bishop, Ph.D. said...

"The only real talent" is a bit of an overstatement, no? The only talent you find worth mentioning perhaps, but the only real one? No. But focused and balanced attention does definitely

Nicole Bishop, Ph.D. said...

lend itself to enhancing any chosen discipline.

Anywho, I am becoming a fan. Always food for thought.