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Surfers' paradise

Dixe Wills


So, I'm lying awake at four o'clock in the morning fretting about how time-bendingly quickly my life has gone by. What happened to the last ten years, for example? The only explanation for their disappearance is that I was in a coma for at least eight of them and no one has been quite brave enough to break the news to me yet. Of which, as a public service, I ought to say that if Louise Burrell of Stranraer is reading this, you did indeed spend over six years in a coma - everyone's been lying to you.

Now, in a last-ditched attempt to slow the pace of my life before it switches to warp speed, I have been learning this year how to 'live in the moment'. If that sounds a shade too Buddhist for your taste, try thinking of it as a way of obeying Jesus' admonishment that we should not worry about the morrow.

Unfortunately, no sooner do I sit down at my laptop than a thousand jostling thoughts fill my head and displacement activities dance before me like Salome danced before Herod. Thus I am literally (yes, I've used the L-word - let's see where I go with this) able to spend an entire day 'writing' while producing no more than four lines and a to-do list on which nothing has been done.

Since I earn a living exclusively from the words I manage to crank out, this state of affairs is somewhat problematic. I suspect too that since very few of us get away with not spending at least part of our day computer screen-bound, it is an experience shared by many.

So, bless those lovely men and women at a little office in Barcelona who came up with the OmmWriter Dana (ommwriter. com - Dana is a Sanskrit and Pali word meaning giving). A download later and suddenly my laptop has turned into a place of uncluttered calm. The entire screen becomes a blank sheet for me to fill. There's no spellchecker, no thesaurus, and, should I wish (and I do), Dana will make the soothing sounds of a clanking train drift from the speakers to mask the enticing noises that spill through my window.

I often book myself railway tickets just so that I can spend time on trains writing. Admittedly, the sound effects don't give quite the same experience, but they do work out a lot cheaper. Best of all, it doesn't matter how often or how hard I hit the Escape key, Dana won't let me leave to check the cricket score.

It made me think that there must be other areas of our lives to which these focusing techniques could apply. This is how I came to be spreading white sheets over items of furniture in my flat. Suddenly all my bookshelves disappeared, all the piles of tat on the kitchen table just vanished, and my laptop and the unfilled to-do list were similarly lost beneath a calming shroud. Freed from such distractions I sat and tried to do nothing but be. All right, I'm not much good at it yet but it sure beats fretting.