The evils of blur

I left my purse at the Bay food court at around 1:30 this afternoon.
When I realized this at 5:00, I spent few minutes of frantic rushing
about with a pounding pulse, checking asking cleaning personnel and
security desks if a purse was reported found. I made a few calls
cancelling my evening plans, borrowed transit fare from my manager,
and headed home. (It would have been difficult to sing festive
Christmas carols in that state of mind.)

A few years ago, I might have spent the commute home fretting.
Instead, calmed by the realization that there wasn’t anything else
I could do
about it at the moment and that it was just
stuff
anyway, I continued reading Denning’s book (“The Leader’s
Guide to Storytelling”, a very good read).

W- greeted me at the door with a big warm hug. I shucked my coat and
proceeded to the kitchen, where I booted up the little computer that
held the encrypted backup of my account numbers. I called TD,
PCFinancial, Fido, and the Toronto Public Library to block my
accounts. I also called the Toronto Police, and a friendly police
officer promptly called me back for the police report.

I’m getting better at dealing with the consequences of these mistakes.
It’s just stuff. Credit and debit cards can be cancelled, phones can
be blocked and replaced, identification can be flagged and reissued,
and cash I can subtract from my play money budget. And I’m still
looking forward to finding the purse at the lost and found counter
tomorrow. Some of my favorite letters were in the purse, but W- will
write me more over the years, and the letters themselves are not
important; the sentiments within them are.

It’s just stuff. While paying more attention will definitely help in
the future, there’s no reason to beat myself up about it—which W-
gently helps me remember whenever I forget this and let out a
frustrated “I suck!”. I’m glad he’s around and that he’s so understanding.

My personal challenge is blur. It’s an evil, evil thing. A
moment’s inattention
is all it takes for me to not see something I’m
looking for, lose a set of keys, or leave a purse. I’m going through
the motions
of doing something, but I’m not fully present, so things
slip through the cracks. I may remember something about the key
moment, but I don’t remember enough of the context in order to easily
find things again, and my memories are disjointed. This feeling sucks.

When does this happen? When I’m thinking about other things, when I’m
running on autopilot, when I’m rushed. Misplacing small things or
detecting small inconsistencies usually serves as a good warning sign
that something’s taking up too much of my thought on the whole. If I
don’t slow down and pay more attention to what I’m doing, it gets
worse.

Here’s what I need to do in order to avoid this:

  • Experiment with living slowly and with full presence and intention. A habit of looking back doesn’t help if you look, but don’t *see*…
  • Or at least, pay attention to those niggling feelings and catch myself before I drift.
  • Make sure I replenish my emergency money stash so that I don’t have to rely on luck and friends.

It’s a constant struggle against blur. How do you manage this?

Random Emacs symbol: undo-extra-outer-limit – Variable: If non-nil, an extra level of size that’s ok in an undo item.

On Technorati:

  • http://learning-at-work.blogspot.com Clair

    I don’t manage either >.<

    I have tons of “this is teh suck” moments and also the blur moments but I guess that multi-tasking does have limits. Multi-tasking means my attention is divided into several things and as such I can’t really expect myself to remember a lot so I have to limit myself as to what I should do and think about. At least it’s easier to recover from the blur moments when they happen if I do that.

    I still have to find better ways of handling that. Seriously.

  • http://gabrielmansour.com Gabriel Mansour

    Oh no! I’m so sorry to hear that! Your phone, too? How will we stay in touch? We practically thrive off sms…

    I really hope you’re able to get your purse back. I’ve lost stuff before too, and it’s not fun at all :(.

    If slow’s what you’re looking for, then I’d like to suggest to you In Praise of Slow by Carl Honoré. It’s a great book (or so I’ve heard; I’ve checked it out from the library at least 3 times, but never got around to reading it…) and an international bestseller, and I think you might enjoy it.

    Best of luck in recouping your purse. I’ve got my fingers crossed for you!

  • Raymond Zeitler

    I’m sorry this happened. Have you considered starting a routine of meditation? This will help you live in the moment, and only takes 10 – 15 minutes at first.

    I used to meditate regularly about 20 years ago. I had very good focus. I’m turning into a flake now, so I realize I need to start it up again.

    Also, my diet plays an important role. Too many carbohydrates lead to brain fog. It helps a lot if I comply with the Blood Type Diet.

    Good luck getting this all sorted out!

  • http://hackmybrain.blogspot.com Francis Ocoma

    Last night I bought a new pair of leather shoes and lost the shoe box minutes later. Good thing I was already wearing the new shoes, but I left my old yet still usable sneakers in the box. What a waste.

    My Dad enjoys reminding me how things that aren’t securely latched onto me always seem to get lost, which is why I even keep my wallet chained to my pants!

    Maybe I think too much. Maybe it’s the lack of sleep. Sometimes I wish I lived in a more technologically-advanced age, where artificial memory could allow me to…d’oh! I’m daydreaming again…

  • http://www.countablyinfinite.ca/blog quinn

    Sorry to hear about the loss and all the trouble, hopefully it all works out in the end. I’ve had a couple close calls in the past while that made me realize I’m a victim of ‘blur’ as well. (Left my purse on the bus; got it back. Left my scarf on the bus; got that back too.)

    Not too many tips for you from me, alas. But it’s good that you kept calm about it and saw it for what it is. It’ll only get worse as we get older. I bet playing Brain Age or eating greens+ doesn’t hurt.

    I find that I often put too much pressure on myself to be quick and on the ball, when a moment’s more of care can really save us a lot of time later on. Maybe that’s helpful for you too?

  • http://respectthewind.blogspot.com/ Gerald Generoso

    shit happens… and sometimes even if you place your foot in that moment, it just goes off! Over the years I have come to believe that any sort of preparation will always be at the mercy of the moment. How you arrive to a resolution with whatever good the moment has to offer is the stuff that does turn things around. Goodluck and Godbless :-)