Hocus Focus

24 February 2017 Lorin Clarke

Hocus Focus

Slow it down.

And then out.

Now focus on something else. Just for a few minutes.
Focus on ants. Little organised regiments of determination, scurrying about figuring out the logistics of how to tow a giant crumb twice their size back to the nest, with no regard to whether they look like an idiot, and completely oblivious as to whether you’re feeling good or bad or otherwise.

Focus on tunnels. How amazing are tunnels! Some of them go under water!

Focus on those people who do tai chi in the park. Slow-mo ninjas in daggy tracksuits surrounded by people hurrying to work or limping home from the night before. Borrow some of their stillness. They’re sending it out into the world.

Focus on the fact that we sleep. Maybe not well, maybe not always, but how fascinating that humans can’t survive without this weird thing where our conscious mind shuts down and our subconscious mind plays around in the empty house until we feel better.

Focus on the word “bunkum”.

Focus on intergenerational friendships. Like the grandmother in the street near my place who was saying just the other day “well of course this was about the time my marriage was breaking down so I suppose we have that to thank for something after all” and was blinking up at her grandson, unsure he’d even heard her – this long-haired teenager half-way up a ladder helping her clip the top of a vine. He handed the clipping down to her. “Well Nan, I didn’t know Grandpa, but I do love your jumpers, so it seems like a fair trade to me. Did you want these right back to the edge here?” and whatever it is he’s said, whatever the context, her small smile before she continues “thanks dear” is enough to conclude he said the right thing in the right way.

Focus on baked goods.

Focus on brolgas.

Focus on the perfect mathematics of two people holding hands.

Focus on the astonishing things the human body is capable of: backflips, childbirth, waiting in a queue for a toilet at a music festival, marathons.

Focus on ancient woodwork, lovely old stained glass, hand-laid bricks and stones. Notice how thick and warped and cool old glass windows are with their little pockmarks and imperfections. Notice the texture of the stones. Notice how the buildings around you were made by people – silenced, perhaps, by time – but whose handiwork towers above and around us and whose lives contributed to yours, right now, and wonder: did they ever think of you? Did they ever wonder who would live and work and play around and through and under the structures they were building?

Focus on expressions old people use. Like “worse things happen at sea” or “you’re looking very smart today” or, in a moment of unbearable fury, “oh, fiddlesticks”. May they never disappear.

Focus on small gestures of generosity, like when the woman slipped two dollars into my parking metre at the zoo while I was doubled over, trying to find some change under the front seat as an explosion of five-year-olds chimed “you forgot the money” over and over for what felt like an hour. Thank you, hero. You will not be forgotten.

Focus on the times you thought you’d be late but you got all the green lights and a person in a four-wheel drive miraculously waved you through a gap in the traffic.

Focus on fresh mint.

Focus on a strawberry. The architecture of it. The smell. The colour. The little green hat on the top.
It’s all around you, this stuff. It’s not in the news. It’s not taking a photo of itself at a party. Nevertheless, it is deserving of your attention. And remember: worse things happen at sea.

This has been a public service announcement.

by Lorin Clarke

This article was first publised in Ed#531 of The Big Issue.