Saturday, June 25, 2022

Office Hours

     One of the things about ADHD is called "time-blindness." It's one of the reasons why people with ADHD are impulsive and inconsistent and distractible. For us, there really is no time but the present. We have really poor memories. For me, the past is like a movie I watched a long time ago, not something that happened to me, personally, at all. And I mean, a few days or weeks or months ago, let alone years and decades. And we're no good at envisioning the future, either, which makes planning for it hard, and sticking to a plan even harder. On a smaller time scale, we don't naturally track the passage of time throughout the day. We have no idea how long things take, even if we've done them every day for years. We're always running late. We very often get hyper-focused on the task of the moment, and completely lose track of its relative place or priority in the overall scheme of the day. It's a whole thing.

    In my Rule of Life, I promised to keep on what I was doing when I wrote it, which was to pray all seven Hours of the Divine Office daily. That's not a whole duration of seven hours, it means at seven hours each day. It means that seven times a day, I would stop and read (usually chant) a litany of psalms and prayers and short readings from Scripture or other religious texts. I used it deliberately as a prop for my time-blindness, because it created a natural framework for my day around which to create a loose schedule. I downloaded a church-bell ringtone and set it to ring for the Hours. I loved the way it broke up my day, continually recalling me to, first, my intention to live prayerfully, and then second, back to whatever program I had invariably gotten side-tracked from in the interval since the previous Hour.

Sunday, June 19, 2022

Sacred fire

    What would it be like if I learned to harness my intensity and sensitivity? What if this highly reactive nervous system could become less a disability to be managed, and more a super-ability to be tapped into and used for good? Can I learn to open up to all the -- all of it, all the feelings, to manage them self-compassionately, intuitively, unflinchingly? Without always shying away or curling up (figuratively -- maybe also literally) to hide from the intensity? What would I be then? 

    Aurora Remember Holtzman (link) (which, just can I first take a second here to cheer her parents for "Aurora Remember"? poetry!) talks about "embracing intensity." Her tag line is "use your fire without getting burned." Gregory Boyle, the Jesuit priest who has been opening doors to and for gang members in Los Angeles for over 30 years, talks about letting his heart be broken open in compassion, or rather, in kinship with people on society's margins, and in so doing he has channelled God's grace to change thousands of lives for the better. The Sufi poet, Rumi, said lots of wonderful things, including, "The prophets accept all agony and trust it. For the water has never feared the fire.” And, "Dance until you shatter yourself." And, "Stop acting so small. You are the universe in ecstatic motion."

    Intensity confined, intensity suppressed, must become destructive of the self. My intensity, I guess, was simply dampened most of my adult life, by the anti-depressants I truly needed to keep from wanting to die all the time. Now that I am no longer depressed, and no longer medicated against depression, I am finally beginning to learn to feel all my feelings, to tolerate them, to explore them, to get to know more of myself. And I begin to have just an inkling of what I could be, or do, or become, in the process. What could I accomplish in my life if I weren't always trying to escape being uncomfortable, anxious, broken-hearted, insecure, or just plain bored to tears? 

    I'm still just at the beginning of this. I have a lot to learn about balancing self-nurture with unleashing my own power. About, as Aurora Remember says, using my fire without getting burned. Or even, yes, burning, like a phoenix, with faith that through the fire there is new life, new creation, bigger love, love that can reach out beyond my tight little boundaries and open a way to growth and healing, for myself and maybe, God willing, for other scorched souls as well. 


Sunday, June 12, 2022


    In the last few weeks, I have written about the first two of my three vows, Solitude and Silence. The third is Simplicity. In a sense, they are all just different aspects of the same thing. It's all about cutting down on the normal bombardment of exterior stimuli, to allow more space and focus on the interior life. It's especially crucial for someone like me, whose mind and senses do not naturally filter or focus easily. Also, though, our modern culture is biased against simplicity too much even for most neurotypical people. Everything is more, and now, impulsive and impatient and directed. When do we stop and smell the roses? When do we daydream? When do we wander? When do we create something new? 

Saturday, June 4, 2022


     I've been out in the countryside this week, at a nice, quiet little retreat house. Quiet! Oh, how sweet the silence! "Silence" here meaning singing blackbirds (sounds like an American robin), larks, finches, cuckoos, and a lot of others I haven't learned yet, and the breeze in the borders, and the droning of bees, and the skittering of geckos and rat squirrels (not rats ... rat squirrels. It's an AndalucĂ­an thing) across the roof tiles.