Distraction can be good and distraction can be bad. It’s important to know which kind is which.
There’s something important you need to do, or some critical information you need to take on board but your mind is elsewhere. Hopefully you can ask a question, feel embarrassed, and catch what you need to know when it’s repeated.
Sometimes, though, we go through life allowing ourselves to be distracted, consciously or unconsciously, at the most important moments. This is definitely not good.
Human life is an incredible thing; we simply don’t know what we’re capable of. The wrong kind of distraction means we’ll never know. Nothing is wasted, when it comes to the experiences of our lives, out of which can emerge some astonishing future possibilities for who we can be and what we can do. It’s about reimagining all of this into what can only be described as art and contribution. But there’s something very uncomfortable about this. It’s about the unfamiliar. It includes seeing the truth about ourselves. It can be easier to allow ourselves to be distracted ted and watch some thoughtless TV instead:
‘They sit and stare and stare and sit
Until they’re hypnotised by it.
Until they’re absolutely drunk
With all the shocking ghastly junk.’*
Yet this possibility of human change and development is the closest thing we have to alchemy: a leaden life turned into something golden – I’m not thinking glitzy or celebrity.
There’s also a good sort of distraction.
The kind that’s curious about everything our lives contain, how we got to where we are – the work the relationships, the dreams … , what we can do with it, and how we feel about things. This feeling stuff is what really trips us up. Because curiosity in these things is about vulnerability and courage.
Curiosity, though, is another word for distraction.
The possibility of following the habit holes that our lives are riddled with, to find out the more about ourselves that can be life-changing. It’s where we hear the deep whispers of our lives.
(*From Roald Dahl’s Songs and Verse.)