Lost Focus – Dirty Good Co.

I’ve lost focus these last few weeks. It happens.

It’s been a little over five months since we moved into the van, and three months since we set out on this quest, a quest to live both mobile and more purposefully. We began with the simple goals of consistent movement in Nature, daily writing, eating well — enough, consuming less, and living more essentially. Over the last month as the weather cooled and the nights came sooner, the lights and activity of metro areas became more tempting and inviting. As such, we’ve spent most of our evenings the last few weeks in Walmart parking lots because of convenience and ease. With Winter’s shorter days we find ourselves spending early evenings in coffee shops, bookstores, movie theaters, or Whole Foods pubs to work, read, and simply enjoy the provided warmth and the surrounding buzz of conversation. Afterwards, driving out of the Phoenix and Tucson area in the dark to find dispersed camping was less convenient than driving a few blocks to one of the half-dozen Walmarts in the area.

“We lose focus when the desired life is not in plain sight. We lose focus because what is in plain sight are the distractions. ”

In the Fall, when the weather was warm and the sun shone in the sky late into the evening, it was easier to cook for ourselves and camp out under the stars. I’m discovering now it takes great strength to forego the luxury of having a bathroom with running water and flushing toilets (even if it is in a Walmart), the holiday treats that are displayed everywhere we go, and a gluten-free pastry with my morning coffee. Clearly when one immerses themselves in the city life, a lifestyle which revolves around ease and consumption, one becomes tempted with less than desirable options, or simply the easier option. For myself, as I mentioned, this is primarily sugar in the form of pastries, ice cream, and peanut M&M’s. Secondarily, I find it hard to pass on the double-double protein and animal style burger across the street.

Of late, I have also find myself consumed in the daily tasks of managing the freelance projects necessary to pay the gas, food and lodging bills. One can’t ignore the need for money, but I have always allowed its pursuit to interfere with my need to write. When we camped away from the convenience of wi-fi I wrote first thing in the morning. Now I check email first thing, then begin working on earning, and the writing is forgotten.

So I’ve lost focus — with eating well enough, and more significantly with writing. It happens with every one of us. Our intentions are hijacked, forgotten, or sabotaged. Your intentions and goals may be polar to mine, that is of little consequence. The common thread is losing track of what we desire of our lives because of ease and distraction. We lose focus when the desired life is not in plain sight. We lose focus because what is in plain sight are the distractions. We may want the harder path but if we take our eyes off the horizon for a moment when we look up again we may find we’ve missed a turn and ended up on the easy trail.

We must backtrack, or find a new route, to regain our momentum on the path desired. The first step is acknowledging we misstepped, without brow-beating ourselves. Then, with renewed awareness, place ourselves back on the less beaten trail and move forward. With that, I am renewing my intentions to cut out refined sugar and to eat no less than a bag of fresh greens daily. I renew my goal of writing daily. Together, Susan and I are discussing setting population and elevation criteria for the towns we stay in to avoid unnecessary days in parking lots and easier access to trails and dispersed camping.

What intentions should you renew to get back on your right path? What criteria can you set to avoid the ease and distractions that routinely sidetrack you?

— Paul

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Paul Lieto
Mixed Terrain Enthusiast /. Dirty Good Co — founder and Editor of RaceCenter Magazine.