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Distractions

Dig if you can a picture

Of a man engaged in a task

Something shiny distracts him

And he forgets about the first thing.

Apparently, Prince never sang these words but if he did then it would describe how my brain works. I can be set about an activity, such as cleaning or writing this blog, and then I will be quickly distracted or start to do something else. The original task would remain undone and when I do get back to it, if at all, then it may lack my full attention. The downside of this is that it makes me appear “scatty” or “feather brained”. Which, to an extent I am. Sadly, these have more negative connotations than positive and does make it look like I don’t care about whatever it is I am doing. I also have a tendency to think “if it isn’t perfect first time then why bother”, this is also not the greatest attitude to have. And it is something that I am consciously working to improve on.

Normally, you would hear about a person with Autism or Asperger’s as having a laser like focus on something that they are interested in. All else fades away as they are absorbed in a task. I can be like this, if pushed, however it has to be something I am very interested in. Which doesn’t really seem to be that much. The laser like focus for me seems to be ideas being stuck in my mind for years. I will have the idea spinning in the back of my mind like shoes on a slow wash, gently banging away.

If I am interested in something, a book or work or whatever it may be then I do have the ability to focus on the task. When at university I would be able to write essays in a single sitting and get decent, not great, results. Mainly let down by an almost pathological desire to avoid proof reading. I am not saying I can do these things any more than a neuro-typical person, but it is something I can do.

As a child my mother would take my brothers and me to the nearest “big” town to shop. Unfortunately for me, the nearest “big” town was Blackburn. If you are unaware of Blackburn, congratulations, it is a quite big town about ten miles from Burnley which is not a big town. We would be dragged around the indoor shopping centre or Mall. Traipsing from store to store and looking at things. Oh, there is a thing and here is another thing, let’s go to that store to look at that thing and see if we like it more than this thing. During this expedition to look at all the things I would become bored. Normally on the drive to Blackburn. I would be standing next to my Mum and then, out of the corner of my eye, I would see something. A thing that I wanted to look at. Obviously, the smart idea would have been to say to my Mum “I have found a thing, please can we look at it in the hopes that you would buy me it”. That would have been sensible. But sensible has never been my thing. What I happened, with an alarming frequency, would be I would just pop over to the thing. I wouldn’t tell anyone that I was going towards the thing, because why would I? After I had looked at the thing. It would be time for me to go back to my Mum and regale her with tales of the thing. Of course, my Mum and brothers would have moved on. My Mum would have no idea that I had buggered off as I wouldn’t have said a word and she would have my brothers chatting to her and the things to consider. So, I would become lost. I wouldn’t do the sensible action of standing where my family had just been on the off chance that they would realise and come back. No. That would have been sensible, and I don’t always do sensible. I would forget where they had been and start wandering around. Eventually I would find my way to an office and over the PA a bored Lancashire voice would intone, “will the parents or guardians of Matthew Bolton please come to the office”. Without fail this would happen. I have a few memories of being in tears in multistorey car parks trying to find our car. And no, I wouldn’t have remembered where we parked. How I was never bundled into the back of a van and carted off I will never know. Maybe I wasn’t a pretty kid. That’s not the point. It happens nowadays as well as I will be shopping with my wife and wander over to the books or the beers.

A few weeks ago, I was cleaning and sorting out laundry. The really sexy tasks in adult life. While cleaning I rang the estate agents, sorted out some papers in another room and switched between four or five different songs to listen to. The tasks were done but it took longer due to the “oh, I will do this” and getting distracted. When I am watching TV on my own it is likely that I will watch the start of different shows and films before I settle on playing the xbox or doing something different. It is like I cannot fix on one idea or one show. I need to be bouncing around channels. Maybe, the simple explanation is that I am not enjoying what I have chosen so want to put something else on. Maybe that explains the getting lost in Blackburn. I don’t like shopping so out of boredom would look for a distraction, would see it and then, because I can be a little thoughtless, just nip off and look at it. Shopping is dull and it is a task made so much better with the advent of the internet. I don’t need to go out and I don’t need to interact with people. I can do it all at home. Where all my distractions are.

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