In all fictions, each time a man meets diverse alternatives, he chooses one and eliminates the others; in the work of the virtually impossible-to-disentangle Ts’ui Pen, he chooses — simultaneously — all of them. He creates, thereby, ‘several futures,’ several times, which themselves also proliferate and fork. That is the explanation of the novel’s contradictions. Fang, let us say, has a secret; a stranger knocks at his door; Fang decides to kill him. Naturally, there are various possible outcomes — Fang can kill the intruder, the intruder can kill Fang, they can both live, they can both be killed, and so on. In Ts’ui Pen’s novel, all the outcomes in fact occur; each is the starting point for further bifurcations. Once in a while, the paths of that labyrinth converge: for example, you come to this house, but in one of the possible pasts you are my enemy, in another my friend.
- “The Garden of Forking Paths,” from Collected Fictions: Jorge Luis Borges, translated by Andrew Hurley. Penguin Books: 1998.
A Definition Of The Word “Understanding”: To understand something means to know the significance of the object of understanding, to be familiar with it, to accept it as true. [note 1] But to truly understand something, which is the sense that I am most concerned with in this post, is to have an understanding that alters ones actions because those actions are based on that understanding. This “understanding” shapes you forever. All of your actions are done because of or in spite of this understanding.
The problem of ADHD is the inability to conceptualize — and internalize — time and thereby be able structure one’s life based on that conception of time. [note 2] At best, ADHDers can understand infinitesimally small pieces of time – namely, the-now. Yet even these infinitesimal time fragments can be obliterated into nonexistence by the ADHD storms of frenetic mental/physical activity. The holy grail for the ADHDer is to reduce the frequency of these storms. Within a fabricated calmness an ADHDer can begin to see and understand time. An ADHDer can then construct a life based on this understanding of how the-nows are related to the-near-term future — the soon-to-be-now — and the-long-term future even though that future can be weeks, months, or years away. Eventually the ADHDer understands that the long-term-future will become the near-term future and will become the-now.
I have achieved this ability to understand and “see” time. More of my actions in the-now are based on my understanding of the interrelationship between the-now, the near-term and the long-term future. I see actions as threaded together in time and across time. [note 3] The acts that occur in the-now are no longer seen as discrete, isolated acts but as acts that can have an effect in the yet-to-be-seen future. This new understanding, this visualization of action across time and space has opened a new realm of thought and vision. I have gone from extreme mental nearsightedness to 20/20 mental vision. I see things I just did not see before. But this new vision has come at a price.
Before “the cure” [note 4] I did not truly understand the linkages between the-now and the various futures. I could not easily alter my current behavior because it was based on a poorly developed understanding of time. [note 5] I now see it, feel it, understand it. Current action is altered based on a palpably real, future possibility. [note 6] My actions are not subject, as much as they once were, to the vagaries of the ADHD storms. [note 7] They are more focused, more directed. But, as a consequence of this change, something fundamental has changed. Having arrived at the ADHDer’s “promised land” of internalized time, daily life has a different feel to it, a different texture. I am going through the “expected” motions of life, following a particular path — created by my choices and actions — towards an imagined endpoint. The ADHDers illusion (delusion) of an infinite series of choices and do-overs is fading. I do not have the luxury, as in the writings of Ts’ui Pen, to choose all of the paths simultaneously.
This new understanding, this new realization, has created an internal tension. I want to return to that pre-cure state. I want to live again in the infinitesimal nows with the illusion of infinite do-overs, of being able to choose all paths simultaneously. There was a zest, a drive, a vibrancy that was fueled by a never ending swirl of ADHD storms. It was exhilarating, exhausting and chaotic. Yet, I also want to remain in the post-cure state. It is calmer, more predictable. The zest, the drive, the vibrancy to life that characterized the pre-cure state is still there. It is not gone. But it has changed. It is no longer fueled by a string of ADHD storms. Its source of energy is a new understanding of time and action.
I wonder what my life will be like in the coming decades. I expect it to be an interesting journey.
The non-ADHDer may be puzzled by some of the ideas alluded to in this post. The following links may be of some help here.
- The Tyranny of Now
- The A.D.D.er Can Not Understand Life Because the A.D.D.er Can Not Understand Time
- Time Horizons
- The Broken Escapement – An A.D.D. Metaphor
- You CAN accept something as true when it is false. The statement “two plus two equals five” is false which, we know, is true, that is, it is a true statement. ↩
- This is the essence of Barkley’s theory of ADHD.↩
- For non-ADHDers, it is not a revelation to learn that life is a series of actions in and across time and space. However, non-ADHDers “naturally” internalize this concept and conduct their lives accordingly. For ADHDers, this concept is never internalized and the struggle becomes learning how to internalize it to whatever degree is possible.↩
- The “cure” for me consists of medication, therapy, exercise and personal reflection.↩
- Though I was able to alter my behavior based on some imagined “future,” it was only possible with gargantuan effort and within the tornado of forces that comprise the ADHD mind. It was done, in large measure, as a means of relieving the tornado’s pressure — which may have been in the form of a project deadline, for example — in order to be able to rapidly get back to the point where the pressure was gone. It was not necessarily for an imagined future, per se, but for a very near-term future that was pressure-free. It was always done to relieve “the pain.” When the perceived pain was gone, the activity stopped.↩
- When I do not alter my actions as I should, the guilt eats away at me.↩
- Admittedly there are still ADHD storms that temporarily nullify the actions and pull me back into the infinitesimal nows. But these storms are less frequent, less dominant.↩