Throughout school, I always had a hard time staying focused because my mind would wander. If you have ever seen the movie Up, then the dog who gets distracted by the squirrel is most definitely me. If you have not seen the movie Up, and are unaware of the squirrel reference I made, then please watch this quick video.
After college, I was substituting and tutoring at a middle school for a few months. During this time, I realized many students have this same issue of having a hard time staying focused.
In this time of quarantine, I (like many others) have had a lot of time to myself. Every day, I make a to-do list of things I hope to get done. Writing is always on that list, but lately, my “creative juices” haven’t been coming to me. This morning, my mom asked me about my “squirrel” story. At first, I brushed her off. My squirrel story might be the perfect thing to write about to bring some light to everyone during this time. I thought to myself.
A quick side note about this:
My last assignment for my senior journalism capstone class in college was this one. The only guidance for this was to go for a walk (with no music, no phone, no chatter) and write about our experience. Sounds simple right? I thought so too, until I ended up going for several walks because I couldn’t stay focused. I share with you all today, one of the many drafts I went through for this assignment.
I’m walking from my classroom in hopes of finding a nice spot to relax and think. I found a spot on the grass to lay on. It’s a bit itchy and I have some ants starting to crawl over me, yet, something about my skin against the grass feels nice at the same time. It’s hot and I am wearing dark colors in this Miami heat. Why? I am getting up and moving somewhere else to sit now, I can’t take the grass any longer. I have now found a giant rock by the bay to sit on. I love the sound of the water crashing against the shore. This feeling of ‘escaping’ feels nice. There is a slight shade under these trees, so I’m no longer burning in this heat. I see a squirrel, and he’s staring at me. What is that sound? Is that sound coming from the squirrel? Is he growling at me? Is this squirrel frightened by me? Does he maybe think I am going to steal his food from him? Oh gosh, this squirrel is getting closer now. Okay phew, he’s gone. This rock is starting to get uncomfortable but at the same time, I don’t want to move because I am so relaxed now. I love the outdoors. I need to get outside more. Ugh, now what is this sound that I am hearing? It’s this bird that keeps chirping away. look at an airplane! I wonder where the plane is flying to. I want to go on a plane again and go on another adventure. I want to travel more! Oh gosh, there is that annoying bird again, please make it stop. I can still hear the water crashing even with all of these other sounds. I truly love the water, I could be here every day if I could. I keep looking up as though someone is around me like someone is watching me but I’m alone. Ha, I’ve seen too many scary movies! I feel like I might have been some kind of water animal in my past life maybe as a dolphin? People need to spend more time outside, it’s so refreshing. People.. okay, I’m starting to notice people looking at me as though I’m crazy. I’m just sitting on a giant rock in the middle of the day, no big deal. The outdoors gives me such great energy, we need to just stop and listen to nature talking to us and the world around us more often. Wait, what time is it? How long have I been here? Omg! My class, it’s going to be over soon! I have to go. Wow. I was out here like an hour. Time flew by. Now time to look at tall of this and come up with a story…? Not sure what is going to come out of this, but this was nice. The squirrel is back, has he come to say bye? Bye little guy, until next time!
I hope this brings some humor to everyone, but more importantly, for those who can relate, I hope you understand you are not alone. It is normal to get distracted. Just try to focus on the present and let the mind wander. Try to write down all of the random thoughts that pass through your mind, or try to record a voice memo, just as a way to keep track of all of your “squirrel moments” to look back at a later time like I did. Whatever it may be, know that it is okay for your mind to wander, as long as you realize your mind has been distracted, and that you can bring your mind back to focus is what truly matters.