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The Focus


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It's 3am. Can't sleep. I wouldn't say I have insomnia. Just went to bed at 10 and woke up at 3. Woke up after dreaming of Egypt. Thousands of years ago.


Yesterday I really had to calm the f*$k down. Some days it's a fine line between passion and obsession. Sometimes I start out studying something and end up strangling it. It's always been that way. When I started writing songs, I couldn't just write one now and then. I would come home from school, go directly to the basement, and write from 4pm until I collapsed at the end of every night. For about ten years. When I started studying classical guitar, I would play scales for six hours a day. Every time I've written an album, I've locked myself in a room for weeks and months. When I began touring, I'd drive 60,000 miles year, criss crossing the country for a decade. 1,000 shows. WTF? More than once I nearly died on the road. Driving stubbornly through floods, ice storms, tornadoes, blizzards, lightening. I marvel that I'm typing this right now.

The list goes on. Focus or obsession?

Painting. Meditation. Drinking. Languages. Drugs. Reading. Sex. Cleaning. A part of me doesn't seem to be able to casually explore. It has to consume.

Every asset becomes a liability. It's a classic struggle between *depth* and *balance*

I want to be balanced, I honestly do. I want to be SO balance. The MOST balanced, EVER!! I want to be so WHOLE it tears me a-PART! Kidding. Right? I LOVE so many parts of life. Being a father, husband, friend. Such an unspeakable miracle, just to wake up in the morning and go to sleep at night. Playing Polly Pockets with my daughter? Without equivocation, one of the greatest things a human can do while alive on Earth. To the core.

The problem is not that I don't want balance over a range of things in life. It's good to eat right. Exercise. Meditate. Have some fun. Party now and then, misbehave, then return to center. But my center pulls to the margins. Hard. This f8$cking center *swerves*. It has missing blocks of time.

Here's a classic example. There was a time in my life when I discovered a kind of pretzel I liked. A pretzel I really, really liked. Wege Hard Pretzels. I ate them. I ate them to the exclusion of all other foods. Except Squirt pop. Wege Hard Pretzels and Squirt pop. That was my entire diet. For weeks. One day I became quite ill. Even then, I was oblivious to the way I'd created my condition. I went to the doctor. He examined me, and said "What have you been eating?". OH..... It suddenly made sense. I told him, and he looked at me like I was the idiot that I actually am. I wondered why, seeing my own behavior reflected in his face, why my face did not have that expression more often. I sat in the doctor's office and for a second, using co-located astonishment, it occurred to me there was something fundamentally stupid about me. Why would a person eat only Wege Pretzels and Squirt pop for weeks on end? It doesn't make sense. Nearly any way you size it up. It's certainly not mature. But my appetite for these two staples was insatiable. It wasn't was a nuanced combination. Carbonated fructose corn syrup. Processed wheat. Salt. It was probably less the presence of those ingredients than it was the absence of others (like protein, water...) that made me ill. Still...

When I reflect on examples like the pretzels and squirt pop, that relentless drive looks dumb. Self destructive, maniacal. There is a litany of even less flattering examples. Most of them from sex and drugs and rock and roll. All of them stemming from the Focus that won't be deterred. The Focus. Even when it's doing something negative. Especially when it's doing something negative?

But that's the thing about this feature, this relentless *drive*. It doesn't make distinctions. It doesn't judge. I'm not saying I don't make distinctions. I can. I do. I judge some things as better than others. But this aspect has always had a way of taking over, and when it gets "in there", it doesn't ask the kind of questions that other aspects would. Questions like; Is this healthy? Could it be deadly? Is it legal?

And so on.

It would be easy at this point to just say that aspect -The Focus- is bad. But it's just being what it is. It's just doing what it does. It naturally inhabits its nature. It has actually been responsible for most of the good in my life as well.

Because The Focus stays. To the END. It does not relent. It is not distracted, deterred, or dissuaded.

No other aspect could finish a great song. Ten hours into it. A week into it. The Focus has the same potent resolve ten days into the creative process as it did the first minute of it. It can sit in meditation for a week. A month. It can paint, write, edit, play, drive, and engage FOREVER. It isn't even accurate to say it goes until the body gives out. It actually keeps going when the body gives out. How many times have I been editing a video for 18 hours, then collapse and sleep, but the Focus makes a seamless transition into the dreaming state? It is still working the video editing system in the subtle realm. And it is doing a BETTER job, unencumbered by corporeal form.

So funny. So true.

Same with meditation, music, painting. There is a part of the self that is not merely a cognitive fixation. It has a wider, deeper station. It keeps doing its thing while the body, mind, and emotions drop in and out. The landscape of those aspects undulate while the Focus maintains unbroken contact with the subject of its Love.

Here's why. That focus apprehends something about encryption that other parts of the self do not. The Focus knows a unique feature of reality is also a facet of Reality. The part has the Whole. That eureka is ecstatic. Any quality is utterly singular, but because the Focus dives so deep, the particular reveals the Universal. The spec becomes spectacular. The dot goes nova. This experience is not intellectual, or theoretical. It's inexplicable but undeniable. It also can't be duplicated, which is what makes the game fun. The way the Vault opens this time is not the way it opens next time. It is a transfiguration of experience that only yields itself to the Awareness that Remains. What studies awareness is studied by Awareness. The Focus is not synonymous with the Witness. There is an attention to detail -an order of magnification- that distinguishes it from the simple Observance of States. It does abide like the Witness, through the climates of the personality, the passing states and phases of being. But it also teases apart the details and co-mingles with the ephemera in a way that is taboo for the Witness.

Of course it has its pathological and healthy modes. But it doesn't care. I can look at it and go:

What the f*$k were you doing eating Wege Pretzels and Squirt pop for weeks on end? That's so ridiculous. You're an embarrassment.

But the Focus isn't embarrassed. It replies:

You never know. There's Something in Everything.

Really? Come on. You're gonna wax mystical on Pretzels?

That's your problem. Categories. You *start* by saying "Pretzel". When you decide what something is before you know it, you divest it of its Secrets. You have to Focus on not knowing. I discovered Something in those things you call pretzels.


Can't explain. It's ineffable. But unmistakable.

You're full of shit.

No. I'm full of Secrets. Don't be such a cynic. Those pretzels told me a secret.

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Without exaggeration, Stuart Davis is one of the most fascinating and exceptional songwriters in modern music.

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