Imagine yourself in a multiplex movie theater. Curiously, no walls separate the half-dozen theaters that form the multiplex. Miraculously, you are watching six different screens all at once, thoroughly understanding and enjoying every scene, word, character.
Welcome to ADHD.
[You in the Real World, be sure to click on the red underlined hyperlinks!]
Makes no sense whatsoever, agrees Four.
Contradictory, Black, don’t you think? asks Two.
“Guys!” I bellow in frustration at six screens. “Let me concentrate! What is the problem, anyway?”
Replies One, This week’s column title is, “President of the ProcrastiNation.”
“Right. It’s a play on words.”
Hey, I get it! shouts Three, jubilantly.
“You’d better,” I reply, shaking my head. “You fed it to me. Now, Screen One, go ahead. Finish your thought.”
Your thought, actually. Anyway, Boss, you are writing a column on how ADHD-powered people procrastinate – delay, postpone, wait, put off until the dead-last minute –
“That is kind of the definition, yes.”
– to get things done. Yet you’re drafting this on Monday, which means you still have a full 72 hours to get the piece written, slip it past the editor –
“That Laura’s a tough one!”
– build it on the Internet, tie links into it, find photos for it and launch it Thursday night.
“Not seeing the problem.”
What Screen One says, interjects Five, is that your unusually disciplined behavior is hardly worthy of a procrastination topic. Why don’t you write this column the way you have so many others? You know, scrambling at the final moment, panicked the piece will go global before you’ve finished!
“I – I guess I’m speechless, guys.”
No, you’re not, points out Two. Or you couldn’t have SAID that you’re speechless. That’s like when your mom says you’re thoughtless. Yet here we are, six screens tucked inside your head, producing thought after thought in runaway choruses –
“Point made, Two.” I stop my keyboarding and confess, “Just once in my life, I’d like to do something in a calm fashion.”
The storm in my head rages as screens desperately try to accept this idea they somehow let slip past their defenses and into my mouth. I have such a cacophony of thoughts that rather than rein them in, I simply let them fly about the recesses of my head.
Screen Six breaks the (non)silence. Black, the whole reason you have this incredible Power of Procrastination is because of us. Single-screen humans must plot, plan, prepare, piece together their tasks well in advance of actual due dates because they have limited processing capability. Those ragged Real Worlders are the manual typewriters of this life. They are able to hit just one key at a time lest fumbling fingers make two keys rise together, meet at the inked junction and wedge fast, leaving no letter at all.
Four picks up the thread. Not you, Boss. You are a super-computer – several super-computers, really – all chain-linked and processing simultaneously, each glorious thought racing from your brain to your mouth in an effort to arrive prior to the many others we screens send zipping along similar raceways.
Finishes Five, The hard truth – and we all know it – is that the later you commence work on something, the tighter your thinking becomes. In a word ….
“Hyperfocus.” I laugh. “When I’ve got all kinds of time, my thoughts – well, you screens – run all over the moon. But when I’m down to a deadline – ”
Or anything requiring extreme concentration, notes One. Usually life-threatening, to be honest, but not always.
“ – the six of you hum as a single unit, a giant IMAX, and I do my best work, my brightest thinking. Do you … do you suppose I thwart my own efforts intentionally, then? I mean, wait until the hour is late and straits are dire to get down to business?”
It is when you produce your finest work, affirms One.
“But it causes me so much grief and unnecessary stress! My parents spent agonized nights waiting for me to complete school projects and papers that were due the next day, though assignments had been given weeks, if not months, earlier!”
You just didn’t trust your powers back then, coos Three. Now, after all those good grades and promotions, you know better.
“Not sure I share your sentiments.”
Yes, you do, says Five, in what might be described as a trance-inducing tone. You have so much confidence in us – in our ability to pull wonderwork from your disaster – you just might quit your writing this moment and go join your beautiful brown-eyed bride in bed.
“I like that thought.”
Who wouldn’t? sighs Two. See you Thursday night, say, an hour before launch?
Postscript: Over the calorie- and blessing-filled Thanksgiving weekend at my twin sister’s home, the Blackwell brood discusses latest books we’ve enjoyed. Youngest-brother Barry, moved particularly by The Book Thief, deems it a “life-changer.”
This prompts Thor to plan a library visit. But the correct title escapes him – he calls it The Bike Thief – and his error inspires a very different train of thought.
Always dangerous, your brother thinking, murmurs Screen Two. Always fun.
Thor explains, “With our proud one-sixteenth Indian heritage – Mom’s twin, Aunt Jo, can verify this – we will write The Bike Chief. It is the story of an easily distracted bicyclist who pedals into cars, curbs, street signs, even his brother.”
He laughs. “Usually not in that order.”
* * * * *
Scared by a bear … or awed by a fraud?
That jolly old elf just isn’t himself …