With my second pregnancy I worked well into the eighth month teaching in a prison and six weeks later I was sitting in a classroom on a ‘Women into Business’ course, feeding my infant boy under a towel, much to the consternation of the trainer and the participants. Undaunted, I started my business, which involved setting off at 5am around East Anglia to events at National Trust Properties selling hand painted furniture. By the time my son started two mornings at nursery, during that brief respite and again when he napped, I was writing a novel, all this between ferrying my daughter to and from school and running the home. I also put up shelves, decorated, cleaned, cooked, shopped and was the Director and Company Secretary of a business consultancy with my then husband. I never stopped. It was as if I was in perpetual motion and given our holiday was a week self-catering in an ill equipped cottage (no washing machine or dishwasher) rest was hard to come by.
But is it any better now? My children are grown, although at the moment both have returned to live with me temporarily…? Yes, emphatically temporarily. I have a property and garden in need of great deal of TLC (my choice) and I have an alarming Pinterest habit, which quickly took over from my Rightmove habit, when I was hunting for a property. Pinterest was made for creatives, if you are not familiar with Pinterest, it is best described as a global online scrapbook, where anyone can pin an image onto a board and you re-pin those that you like onto your boards and follow the boards of others. It is just as easy to pin from a smart phone and I do…often. Currently I have 21 boards, ranging from Abandoned Houses, to Jugs and Brilliant Ideas and most recently Found Objects of Beauty.
The thing is that I also receive about 45-70 emails daily and these come to my smartphone as well. Many are discarded; others require an instant action or have attachments from students that require reading and I have discovered that if I don’t act quickly it is all too easy to miss an important task, as I did earlier this week. While I am not one of those people who have technology in the bedroom (that’s a complete no no for me) I often eat while on my phone or laptop and scroll through my phone with an eye on the television. And I fiddle with it constantly when I am waiting for someone. The smart phone has become the technological equivalent of worry beads.
According to an article by Leon Watson (The Telegraph 15th May 2015) smartphones have left humans with an attention span less than a goldfish. Goldfish are understood to have an attention span of nine seconds, but Canadian research shows human attention span has fallen (since the mobile revolution) from 12 to 8 seconds and social media interruptions are to blame. The compelling need to check out our interactions and the persistent nature of bleeping technology is enough to shatter our concentration. Is it any wonder that ‘Flash Fiction’ (extremely short stories) has become a genre.
I remember the luxury of having time with fondness and longing, I can recall halcyon days, where hours stretched out before me, when I idled, when Sunday was dull beyond anything our young could now endure, I remember processing thoughts and daydreaming. I want some of that back. It sometimes occurs when writing and creating, there is a blissful state known as ‘flow’ it is as type of meditative otherness that comes about when our concentration is in harmony with our activity - it is a quiet bliss.
I am seriously considering techno free time before my concentration to falls below that of a goldfish. That'll be after I post this on Weebly, mention it on LinkedIn, Twitter and send out a round-robin email to all my contacts.