In my mad rush to not panic over packing I’ve mucked up my packing list so much with arrows, boxes and underlines that it’s illegible. Start over. Change it all. Breathe.
by Frank South
I'm in my office furiously making a list when my twenty-year-old son, Harry, walks in.
"Um, Dad, I was wondering about something..."
"Look, I really can’t talk now, Harry. Maybe later, okay?"
Harry muses about almost everything in existence and comes up with questions that I usually find interesting and enjoy talking with him about. But right now I’m busy freaking out because the day after tomorrow I’m leaving home for three months to rehearse and then open my solo show about being ADHD, “Pay Attention,” in Los Angeles.
One – doing this show in L.A. scares me silly. Two – this will be the longest I’ve been away from my family and Hawaii in years and that scares me more. Not exactly a profile in courage, I know, but I’m trying to be honest here. Maybe I should dial the honesty back when I start looking pathetic, but let’s talk about that later, okay?
Now, I’m aware my separation pales in comparison to deployments that troops and their families in the Armed Services deal with. All right, it also pales in comparison to separations sales reps, corporate V.P.’s and airline personnel deal with regularly too. The fact is, my plight pales in comparison to almost any hardship suffered by any parent or spouse or family anywhere.
So what? It’s still making me nuts. And that makes me irritable. And puts me way on edge, especially since I have to stop wallowing in self-pity where I’m comfortable and get myself organized for the trip.
Harry walks out as I refocus on my packing list – but by now I’ve mucked it up so much with arrows, boxes and underlines that it’s illegible. Start over. Change it to three lists – Show / Trip Info & Tickets / Clothes & Toiletries. Does show wardrobe go under show or clothes? Doesn’t matter, doesn’t matter – just choose. I give each list a sub-heading – Have / Don’t Have. Wait, I need to add a fourth list – Stationary & Computer related stuff. All four lists are on one yellow pad each starting a few pages after the previous to give them room – thinking ahead. I make scotch tape tabs on the side of the first page of each list. Looking gooood.
And suddenly I’m burning through this four-part list – its working great. I’m remembering stuff I forgot I needed – cross-referencing – double-covering in case of error and it’s all neat and legible. It shines. It is a thing of beauty. It has almost magical depth and meaning. Over the top, maybe, but still -
It means you can pull it together.
It means you can be prepared, be structured, and be rational.
It means you can end up calm and organized at airport check-in and stroll through security with your shoes off, ID and boarding pass out, and head held high with the bemused attitude of a seasoned traveler in your smile and no trace of the ADHD-fueled “fight or flight” panic in your eyes.
You have remembered everything. You have forgotten nothing. With your beautiful list strapped on like bullet-proof vest, you know you can handle whatever curves and confusions life throws at your unusually wired brain. ADHD doesn’t stand a chance.
Stay tuned for my next blog, titled "ADHD fights back..."