The Aging, Retired ADDer
For decades I denied that I had Attention Deficit Deficiency (ADD) even though I had many of the symptoms. I just couldn't connect to the ADD poster-children described in the books that I read. I did procrastinate. And I did get distracted easily. And I wasn't all that organized. But I was functioning, and doing so at a pretty high level.
What may have kept me functioning was the combination of structure and fear that came with working for a living. Structure: I had jobs to do with dates--usually last week--attached. And hanging over me was the threat of disaster for my family--and failure for me--if I didn't get things done, if not last week then at least next week. Or the week after next.
So deadlines and threats kept me moving and focused. During the short interludes when finance was not a problem I'd happily let my mind wander. So many interesting things! Oh! Look! A squirrel.
Then came retirement. Thanks to the money that Bobbi had stashed we were in good shape. I didn't have to worry about compromising our life style. Our financial advisor figured that we'd both drop dead before we ran out of money. He said it in a much more politic way, but that was the message.
Our post-retirement cross-country trip was full of plans for things that I could do in retirement. I could paint, after first learning to draw. I could practice guitar and keyboards and get to be mediocre. I could sculpt. I could write.
Or I could surf the Internet and add to my store of useful, semi-useful, and utterly useless knowledge. Which, of course, I did. To excess. I wasn't exactly wasting time--I was using it to learn. But I wasn't doing what I said I wanted to do.
Most of all, I wanted to write, and I wasn't writing. I'd sit down to write. I'd pick a topic. I might even write a few sentences. But sooner or later--as in sooner--I'd decide that I didn't know enough about some facet of what I was writing about. Or thinking about writing about. No problem. I was living in the world's biggest research library. So off I went, researching.
All of the world's knowledge is connected. Start anywhere, follow what's interesting, and you'll end up with hours consumed, learning about something that bears almost no relationship to what you first decided to learn. That is, if you were me. Which you're not, unless it's me reading this. But you get the idea.
I could explain how each topic I researched was connected to the one before it, but I couldn't draw a straight line in information space from the starting point through the intermediate points to the end. Or even a curvy one. The walk was random. Brownian motion in a browser.
My behavior had an underlying reason, and since the available choices were ADD and senility, I embraced ADD, and decided to do something about it. Of course there's a problem here. When a person like me with ADD decides to do something about ADD, the something that the person like me is likely to do involves Brownian browsing. ADD is the starting point for each walk. Who-the-fuck-knows-what is the ending point. Frogs? Thirteenth century painting? Quantum physics?
In desperation, I went to see my doctor. He prescribed some meds that sat in my medicine cabinet for a few months, until finally, in greater desperation, I tried them. They didn't seem to do to much. So I traded him in for a doctor who put me on some meds that did some combination of helping me focus and making me less concerned about ADD.
It's been a few years, now. During that time I have had a few productive writing periods. And I found something useful to do for the company I'd retired from. A little structure, and a little money.
But the ADD hangs there. The only reason I'm writing this, and not out surfing, is the structure provided by my thrice-weekly writing hangout with my big little sister, and my commitment to her that I would spend that time writing, and not doing whatever I'd been working on when we started or whatever struck my fancy as we continued.
So that's the story behind this post.
And I'm sticking to it.