Living at the convergence of faith and art.

Disfocia: It’s Gifts and Challenges

Lew caught on film!

Hi!  My name’s Lew, and I suffer from disfocia.

Dis.fo.ci.a: (dis-fō’-chee-a) from the Latin prefix dis, meaning not or to withhold, and the Latin verb focia, meaning to focus or concentrate. A common “disorder” in persons with either broad interests, broad pursuits, or broad thinking as global thinkers, philomaths,or polymaths.

See more at philomath and polymath.

Recently I discovered that I’m not scatter-brained at all, I’m just a global thinker. I really need to see the big picture before I can effectively drill down into details. Context is vital to me and guides the way I interact with life. I live seeking meaning and purpose in pursuit of truth.

Being a global thinker has its drawbacks as well. When paired with philomathy, the love of learning, global thinking can cause a kind of euphoria and with it “disfocia” – the state of becoming unfocused; not to be misunderstood as becoming confused. A lack of focus and a lack of understanding are two different things entirely.

The condition of disfocia is similar to a puppy seeing too many kids to play with, or an avid reader discovering a great bookstore – the choices are legion. I often suffer disfocia when I become interested in too many subjects simultaneously. I must impose some self-discipline in order to remember why I’m here and what I was after in the first place. I must, as a philosopher once said, “Stay the course.”

At times I hear people say to me, Jack of all trades, Master of none. It is then that I realize just how little most people know about a global philomath. The close cousin to the philomath is the polymath. This person is someone who has achieved true mastery of many fields of endeavor.

Perhaps the most famous of all polymaths was Leonardo daVinci. If there was ever a person whose diversity of diversions was fruitfully apparent, it must be daVinci. A master painter, a master illustrator, a master inventor, a master scientist, daVinci embodies the Renaissance man. While I am nowhere near the level of mastery of daVinci, I am very good at those things I choose to follow and develop.

The bottom line for me though, is a need to focus. Interests are one thing, gifts are quite another. In my blog here at Creative Harmonies, what began as a personal exploration of the multitude of harmonies between the great domains of faith, science, and art has been boiled down to a focused pursuit of the integration of faith & art. While I still hold deep interests in the domain of science, I need to focus and minimize the effects of disfocia in my life. It’s tough enough to focus while working within the domains of faith & art. I don’t need to add to it by releasing myself into the larger pursuit of the blatantly obvious harmonies between three of the greatest of all human domains of inquiry. Two is enough.

I have found that my bouts of disfocia are remedied by such tools as lists, mind maps, and various reminders of what I’m really after – the truth. It takes personal discipline to turn from the many tantalizing offerings in even adjacent subjects such as collage vs. quilt-making, or journaling vs. bookbinding. So, for me, a list of prioritized pursuits and projects keeps me on track and each yields fruit in its own good time. Deadlines are also a wonderful motivation to stay on-task, as it were, pursuing the development, implementation, and completion of a project.

The gift of being both philomathic and global is that I’m very open-minded. The downside can be that I sometimes fall into the realm of being open-ended; where’s the project going, and when will it be finished?

Research and development of projects can be both blessed and cursed by my gifts of philomathy and global thinking; blessed simply because while I’m looking for some sort of truthful context, I am also open to serendipitous possibilities and discoveries. I have few, if any, foregone conclusions. My gifts can turn and bite me though when I allow them uninhibited free-reign and realize that what I’m encountering is the candy of unlimited possibility. If not quickly brought under control, I can end up like the town Mayor in the motion picture Chocolat; who ate himself into oblivion right there in the front window of the chocolaterie.

I no longer bristle at the accusation that I may be a Jack of all trades, and a Master of none. I’ve found that a life of wonder and possibility; a life of discovery and expressive adventure all add up to a more open disposition for differing points of view. I’ve learned that while this Creation of which we’re all a part is indeed endowed with self-evident truths, it is also a realm of unlimited variety and beauty.

Without apology I say, with my fellow philomathic-globals, – “I want to see it all.”

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