Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Simple Suggestion #261... Focus on one thing

These days I'm spending some time as a volunteer at our L'Arche Day Program, on days when the team has its meetings. What this means is that I arrive early enough to greet the gang when they arrive, to help with coats and pour coffee while the regular staff are elsewhere in the building.

Last week, Sandy* arrived early, even before I did, and I found her already "working hard." "Hi, Ria!" she said, and got up to pull a chair next to hers. Patting the seat so I would sit, she returned to her task -- she has playing cards from five different decks that she sorts while she drinks her coffee every morning.

I sat and marveled at her as she worked. She was methodical and unhurried, putting the cards into five different margarine containers according to the designs on their backs, and then starting over again and sorting them into suits in four of the same containers. She was so focused that nothing distracted her, and there was something very calming about the way she worked -- I found myself mesmerized -- and suddenly flashed back to the end of my first year of teaching, when I spent two days unwinding before returning to the city, doing nothing but eating, sleeping, and playing solitaire the old-fashioned way, with a deck of playing cards.

Sandy worked down to the last few cards, mostly spades, and didn't miss the fact that one of them was a club and had to go into a different container. She tossed it in with the other clubs, turned to me, and smiled, pleased with herself. I cheered and clapped, and so did she once all the cards were in the right place. "Yay!" she said. "I did it!"

There's something important about putting things in order, in finishing tasks, and in patting ourselves on the back. I'd recommend something like sorting with Sandy to anyone who could use a little break from our multi-tasking world's chaos. Focusing on one simple objective -- whether putting dishes away, straightening your desk, sweeping the floor, or playing solitaire -- is good for the soul somehow.

Thanks, Sandy, for the reminder.

*I use pseudonyms for all my L'Arche friends.

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