Shaun Levin

Focusing to Let Go

In Writing on March 12, 2013 at 1:54 pm

Twenty minutes is about all L can manage. And that’s on a good day. Sometimes twenty seconds is a triumph. When he’s having a boxing lesson at the gym, 20 seconds is a lot. He worries about what people around him are saying. He worries that he’s not very good and that he looks ridiculous and what made him think he’d ever be able to box. He used to fantasise about being able to dance, learning ballet, and when he looks at the boxers training – sparring, not fighting – they look like ballet dancers. The grace, the speed, the control that seems effortless. That’s how L wants to move, and with the added perk of being able to protect himself. Every fighting art seems to have that grace, capoera, tai chi, karate, all seem linked to ballet, or all on the same continuum. Is that what dancing is, a way of protecting yourself? Are those the roots of dance, of speaking to the higher powers, the gods? As if to say: If I can protect myself then god will protect me. Or something like that. Is that the logic of it all?

So C is teaching L how to punch. The jab, the hook, the upper cut, and because they’re doing kick boxing, it’s the knees, too. Very rarely does it feel easy. L’s body feels awkward, rigid, and then when C demonstrates, L is in awe. He thinks: What will it take to be like that? Of course, there is also the distraction of C’s good looks. And people are watching. And the music is loud and L’s coordination is all wrong. How does one step and punch at the same time, or step, then punch. Focus, C says. Just focus.

C tells him that sometimes when he’s in a fight he’s so focused he can’t even hear the crowds, and when he watches a video of the match afterwards, he’s surprised at the level of noise in the place.

But every now and then L gets into a groove and everything disappears except the writing (weren’t we talking about boxing?). Nothing else matters. One moment you’re at point a, then you’re at point b and it feels like a miracle; you can’t remember how you got there! The strange thing about focus is that we do it to let go, to disappear. What C means when he says focus is to let go of everything else around you, to just be in the moment. Food doesn’t matter, nor fame, not even the bank balance, or love. Focus away from distractions, away from other people. He makes focus sounds like a precious thing, a transcendent state. Maybe that’s why L has never been a religious person. Faith is a type of focus.

Focus is a movement outwards into something bigger, stronger, a place where secret knowledge is kept, and it’s a feeling of moving out of your body, of dissolving into something, becoming diffuse. There is no whining in focus, no need and please. Focus is clear of whining. Focus is being in the place you’re meant to be in, not wanting to be somewhere else, not wanting more than there is at this moment in time. Focus is now. Focus is when the thing just keeps going and you don’t know where it’s going to take you and you don’t worry where it’s going to take you because you’ve let go and wherever you land is good. Your hands move and your feet move and there is grace and wonder and elation and smoothness and dancing and you’re floating and flying and diving deep and breathing without thinking about, like that moment at the end of The Big Blue when he finally goes into the water and swims deeper into the sea until there is just a spec of him in the distance.

Focus is letting the cake burn. Focus is not hearing the doorbell ring. Focus is not hearing when your name is called, when you head is buried in a book or in a story or in a game, buried so that you can’t hear the shouting or the laughing and maybe there isn’t any because everyone is so focused on doing what they’re doing, in the moment, in the running and jumping and boxing and lifting and writing and singing and dancing and shooting and grabbing and flying and floating until the very last second.

  1. I deeply loved and got attracted by your Foucsing’s post simply because it’s one of extremely difficult habits to be obtained and which I’m working on all the time and all day long but many many times all my effort goes in vain and then resume trying over and over again 🙂
    But anyway, it’s good reminder…

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