Attention Deficit Disorder, Stuff of Genius

Just the other day a doctor pointed out that I might have ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder). Can’t stay focused. Impulsive. No mundane tasks. Easily distracted, even by the sound of chirping or that the wind hums like a revving up car. Can’t sit still or be in one place.  Zoning out on drawn out conversations. Attention wanderer.  Incurable restlessness.

So I had a medical disorder.

It wasn’t a bad thing at all.

I told the doctor those symptoms are the stuff of genius.  Who pays attention to the mundane? Why miss out on the distraction of a lonesome bird harping a tune? Be fascinated with how the wind sounds like a parking car. Why not let attention soar, dream up oysters and champagne in Paris?

If someone had diagnosed me ADD as a child, would that have stifled my inquisitiveness? Would my mind been yoked to stay in one place, not wander about in all sorts of places at the same time?

I was easily distracted. But who likes monotony, the same unchanging thing? What about things that are alive and move?  And the diversion carried me off to places, whilst everyone was stuck in hard chairs attached to the floor.  How can that ever be a deficit?  I think the deficit happens when you put children on a desk and ask them to memorize things long known. The learning disorder is when your expansive mind is rammed to fit in the box so you can be like everyone else. I’d rather tear boxes and spontaneously create a dollhouse, fashion checkered curtains and blot out Beatrix Potter’s bad mice.

And then there’s the symptom of hyperfocusing. A person with ADD could seriously get engrossed in certain things. Be riveted, enthralled, and not do anything else except that. They stay captivated by a task, for hours and days, untiring, as though they are superhuman. Hyperfocusing. It’s not a bad thing at all. They should call it creativity.

What happened if they medicated me then? If I was asked to forget how exquisite it was outside boxes or classroom walls? Or that dreaming up things was abnormal. If they told me I had to stay inside everyone else’s paradigms. We fear the peculiar, thinking that if we labeled and put them in boxes, we make them common again. But isn’t it dumb to label what could be EXTRA-ordinary into a medical disorder? Who wants the Spelling Bee champion or someone who’s perfect at following directions? There’s Google and copy-paste. There’s a book and photocopier on every block.  There’s even outsourcing. What we need are J.K Rowlings and Steve Jobs. Heck we even need Mark Zuckerberg.

Impulsiveness gives you the gift of spontaneity (so you can go to Paris on a whim.) A resistance against the mundane gives you the gift of magic (which gets you into puddles and wardrobe closets.) That short attention span will bring you distractions so you can have stories and things to invent. That hypersensitivity will write you a Harry Potter book, even invent you Facebook. That you can’t sit still will get you to the places where no one has gone before.  And even that crazed restlessness will keep you truly alive.

Live the full life of the mind, exhilarated by new ideas, intoxicated by the Romance of the unusual.” Ernest Hemingway

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