So, last night I was watching the above Seinfeld episode in which Kramer describes how he’d observed baseball player Joe DiMaggio so intently focused on the process of dunking his doughnut into his coffee that he was impossible to distract.
That kind of focus — the ability to completely tune out the outside world — has always been something I’ve desired. Often, I’ll be reading a book, or thinking great thoughts, and be distracted by the pedestrian ramblings of the morons around me. If I were capable of ignoring my surroundings, I feel that I would be capable of even greater accomplishments than what I’ve already achieved.
And it strikes me: maybe this is the ability that great mathematicians, philosophers, artists, writers have. It’s not so much that they possess tremendous intellectual skill, but they are able to utilize the intellect they have to deeply explore a topic. They can spend hours totally focused on a particular thought process. As I’ve said the past, I think we’re becoming a more and more distracted world, incapable of spending too much thought on any subject before a phone rings, a text message comes in, a child cries because of the threat of an approaching alligator or any other such inconsequential distraction. I think if I could learn to employ a deeper level of focus I would become a human god.