Today’s Daily Stoic writing prompt: How long can I go without letting my attention slide?
I have a good instinctive feeling for when I am feeling depressed or out of sorts–my concentration wanders, and I can’t focus on a single task, but cycle between things. (To be perfectly honest, I’m suffering from a little of that tonight.) I am most productive when I can sink my everything into whatever it is I’m doing–whether that’s work, or research, or reading, or some kind of craft. What I’ll do to regain my focus when I’m in that scattershot mood is to concentrate on music, wholly and completely. Usually that brings me back into equilibrium. Another key motivating factor is a deadline–even one I set myself. Having a due date allows me to plan and pace myself. This afternoon I pulled together a report for tomorrow in record time, having been laying the conceptual groundwork for the last couple of days. I do a lot of that, so when I actually start doing the actual labour of writing, design, or whathaveyou I already have a clear concept in my mind about how a thing will look or read or be assembled. I am a really good mental project planner, knowing from experience how long certain tasks are likely to take, and scheduling them so that I execute them close enough to the deadline to feel that pull and urge to finish, but not so close that I undermine myself.
To segue into my regular update, the bit of disquiet this evening manifested itself in waffling about the choice of source photo for the second part of the embroidered diptych I am working on. The first photograph, as I looked at it, was too blurry (it’s a screen capture from some 1942 footage). I found some other footage I really liked as well, but it was even worse for that, especially at the size I wanted to use. In the end, I found another use of the footage online and was able to get a clearer grab of an image a few seconds after my original one. I now have it sketched and have done the first few stitches. As is traditional, it’ll take a little work before I’m ready to start sharing. But there is now a chance this might actually be a triptych, with the central image perhaps being painted from a photograph from besieged Leningrad with a poster for the 7th symphony and a soldier (perhaps buying a ticket). I briefly considered embroidering it, and I still might possibly for the soldier, but the poster will need to be more detailed and precise than I can get with my needle.
Woke up to snow this morning (of course, a couple of days after getting the tires changed). It’s already well on its way to melting, and it’s not like we were going anywhere. The big excitement today was the arrival of the new edition of the Chicago Manual of style. I’ve needed it a couple of times in recent months, so I decided to splurge.
Last night I also spent some time researching Pallas’ cats, also known as manuls. I’ve decided I will likely embroider one as the next embroidery project, and I wanted to know more about them They have the thickest fur of any cat, have stubby legs (so they’re not very fast), really long canines (3x that of a domestic cat) and are resolutely solitary with huge territories (the point was made that land covering the area of the city of Toronto would likely only host a couple dozen Pallas’ cats). They are extremely tenacious and fierce predators. They don’t particularly like each other, and they like people even less. Sounds like a metaphor for 2021.
On my Shostakovich Discord server, one of the guys was trying to decide which Mahler symphony to listen to, and I put in a word for no. 2, “Resurrection”, which blew my mind when I heard it live–as it turns out, precisely two years ago today. I had decided at the last minute to attend a TSO performance in the wake of the fire at Notre Dame, and a comment from a friend about how it just seemed to be the perfect work to express all of the feelings. I am listening to it now.