I could do this! I can do that! But, I need to this! But, but… I really want to do that!

One of the powers and frustrations of a wandering mind is the number of things that we can do at any one time.

What’s even more frustrating is fully knowing that if we committed to one direction or another, we could very likely do it well. But, in focusing on one path over another, we can easily feel many others closing off.

What if I’m making a mistake? What if one of the other paths is better?

All the while, our thoughts continue to pour in in parallel, while we can only act in sequence. There are so many options and only one next action.

This might seem obvious, and perhaps it is. But it is also far too easily glossed over playing out in several problematic ways.

Maybe we write a zillion tasks thinking we’d get to them all, only to find ourselves crushed in a debt of intentions.

Or maybe we run from one thing to the next trying to do it all without ever actualizing any path, even blaming ourselves:

“I just can’t focus!”

Or maybe we may fall into an uncontrolled deep dive with one thing as other important matters get lost in a chaotic wake.

Either way misses acknowledging The Pain of Potential.

This might sound like a terrible downside, a plight of the human condition.

Certainly there is loss. We can mourn that which we cannot do. Doing so does tend to reduce scatter.

But we can do so much more and even enliven ourselves by paying attention to the pain of potential.

Because it is in that engagement, that focus on our options, where we might find, not multi-tasking, but a mutual support between the rhythms we weave throughout our days.

How I write, improves how I play the piano. How I play the piano, improves how I guide therapy. How I engage others, improves how I can connect with my family. How I learn from a game, improves how I teach, …

“The impeded stream is the one that sings” [^1]

Whatever system you build needs to harness your multiple potentials and guide them in through the limits of your actions. Preferably it does so weaving together the meaningful paths of growth in common between them.

– Kourosh

PS – In the [Waves of Focus course, we build a personal Guide to harness both structure and spontaneity in guiding the multiple potentials into and through your unique days.

[^1]: https://grateful.org/resource/our-real-work-poem-wendell-berry/