A Constant World.

I shall never be a multi-tasker.

Lately, I’ve been required to do lots of things in different places, (including an endurance shop at a real shopping centre – you know – a mall? *shudder*), and it’s reminded me of that special brand of demented skittering that can arise from being too focused on busy-ness and doing-ness.

In fact, I don’t believe that multi-tasking is truly possible, despite living in a culture that’s fervently embraced the concept. Although, I do think many are wising up to the fact that multi-tasking is a myth. And that often it’s just smoke and mirrors, used by those who are pretending to be efficient, or those who have trouble focusing.

Our constantly connected world is not only distracting, but seems to be chasing its own tail a lot of the time.

Not sure whether it’s my training or simply my nature, or both (I strongly suspect both), but even the idea of multi-tasking eludes me. I’m someone who tends to do one thing or t’other. And when I’m pushed to rush between many different tasks like a manic game of ping-pong, I will end at some point with my wheels spinning; and there will be the acrid smell of burning as smoke rises from my ears.

After years of my stolid intensity being considered a fault, (it may well be), these days I allow myself, unapologetically, to be absorbed in one task at a time. This means letting the world fade out, which is (possibly, alarmingly) easy for me. But I’ve worked hard and long at building this work structure for myself. And I’ve chosen having more time over having fistfuls of money, and pretty things. I confess I struggle at times with this. There’s no “right” way, is there?

When I’m working on something, I don’t realise that the toast is burning, and that Merlin, in his infinite capacity for thuggery (and jealousy) has thumped the dog* (again). I don’t notice that the dishes are lying in the sink, (I’m immune to their particular siren call). Social media gets switched off and forgotten, phones are not answered.

The above being the best modus operandi for me, is one reason why some years ago now, I decided to never work in office admin again. Admin – where so often people are required to be “on” all the time, but they don’t get to think very much at all. In fact, in one admin job I had some years ago, my first day on the job, one of the idiots** I had to work with said to me, “we like doers here, not thinkers”. Not the wisest thing a body could say to me. But in their frantic unkindness, they raced through the days, avoiding themselves – and their angry sadness – crushing every moment of silence as they would an enemy.

It was a warning to me not to forget, not to become so distracted from who I am that I could fall into the trap, as they had, of blaming the world for soul loss. Falling prey to daily decisions, the small ones, that steal us from our dreams. The ones that seduce us into believing we don’t have choices.

With some respite from the heat, I can now comfortably settle myself at my desk, in The Library (*snort*), and stare at treetops and hills that stretch out into a blue eucalypt haze. There are gum trees flowering, their blowsy, flame-coloured blossoms are Summer’s splurge amongst all the grey-green. They laugh at the heat and match its passion.

Summer view

I commit this single view to memory, tracing each line and curve, and creaturely shadow: the satyr in the branches of the giant mountain ash, enfolding his dryad lover in his arms; a currawong family singing of death, or rain, or love, or all of these things.  Wind and light, old spirits, fern filagree, the powdered blue where the sky rests on the mountain.

This view becomes a part of who I am, and all that I’ve loved. I listen deeply to certain strands of music, and the work unfolds inside the longest moments. Despite the briefness of the time available to me, it’s without distraction, and with only that view outside I’m inside the entirety of the world. This intensity of being is one that I find deeply restful, in an old, old, nearly forgotten way. A way that perhaps is now mostly only familiar to those of us born in the last century, before the constant blip, and beep.



*the dorje dog uses this fact as political leverage, so that when Merlin cuffs her, she runs to me with her best forlorn face on, “oh mum, the nasty beastie hit me, but I would feel so much better if you gave me a bone, or a liver treat. That would console all of my hurt feelings”. As for that velvetine fiend, Merlin, what can I say about a cat that is scared of chickens, yet torments a dog nearly twice his size, and who could snap him like a twig?

**people who work in admin are not generally idiots, of course. In fact, the vast majority are not. I just happened to luck out in this job, and these two bullies ended up as poppets in my freezer. True story.

9 thoughts on “A Constant World.

  1. Wise words indeed – I spent years working in an office but there came a time where enough was enough and I opted out of the rat race to become a small farmer. The wisest move I ever made, even though it was hard with out a regular income – but I am still here to tell the tale. I am not so much of a multi-tasker more of a drifter who starts one job and finds herself ending up doing another but hey if it all gets done in the end who cares.


    1. Elaine, It’s heartening to hear when someone pulls it off – getting out of the rat race. And even though there can be a precariousness, it can feel saner to follow our own rhythms, and have that autonomy. Having said that, I know so many people now who have held onto their “secure” jobs and income out of fear, only to be laid off. So…

      And I heartily agree with what you say, that however which way we do it, as long as it gets done in the end. Exactly. xx


  2. We can not multi-task. It is not possible. Our mind jumps from one task, to another, and back again. Does this sound like a way to get anything done? No. But all that multi-tasking stuff, is bunk.

    Tessa sezzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz….



  3. Fabulous words that ring so true, as always dear one. I love your writing it carries me along with its poetry. I’ve done admin, hated it for the same reasons. Hate to multi task and sadly at the minute I am needing to what with hospital, chemo and the like for Mr M plus running the home single handedly. I don’t mind, in fact I am glad to do all of t but wow what a shock to the senses it is. Mr Mog bless him does what he can but sadly can’t do much now. I’ve not felt like creating for weeks time goes too quickly and before I know it it is late evening and I can’t create.


    1. Ah, Ambermoggie – that’s a whole other level of multi-tasking and reality that you’re immersed in. The carer’s load, the getting through, and holding so much. That’s an endurance test. How indeed could anyone have the energy or time to create? What you’re doing is an amazing act of love. Peace be with you, dear heart. xxx


  4. multitasking sucks. period. i’ve always felt it was a bit of euphemism, another way of saying “doing many things at once and all of them badly”…

    your description of the view is as beautiful as the view itself. they say a picture is worth a thousand words, and so it can be, but i’ll take both picture and words, please. that’s where the poetry comes in…

    i do hope poor old dorje dog got her biscuit, ‘leveraged’ on sympathy as it might be. and merlin—well, i always find it funny when a bog dog gets schooled by a cat, and i secretly admire merlin for his intransigence, his swagger, his thefts…his unabashed merlin-ness.

    i’m very glad that you got a break in the hot, dry spell. i’m reveling in the 17 inches of snow that has me very contentedly house-bound since friday. much cooking, wine drinking, and divination has been done over the last several days. (and very little shoveling.) i’m in no hurry for a thaw.


    1. I wish you could see my view in the flesh nofixedstars…the photo doesn’t show the scarlet-ness (it’s a word ; ) of the gum tree flowers, nor the purple-y-ness (and another) of the hills. The colours of Australia, and the light is so very different here.

      The dorje dog has certainly been getting her share of little consolations. In fact, she’s thoroughly spoilt, and frequently gets her own poached egg (I shouldn’t really admit to that, should I?)
      I secretly admire Merlin too, but only secretly because otherwise his ego will explode ; )

      I find the idea of you being house-bound due to snow utterly enchanting, (please forgive my ridiculous naiveté Northern Hem dwellers!). It sounds so romantickal. All that wondrous snow, which compels one to be a home-body…bliss! And it sounds as though you’re doing all the loveliest things that I would want to do in such conditions : ) xx


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