Abracadabra, Alla Peanut Butter Sandwiches, Alakazam, Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo, Hocus Pocus, Meeska Mooska, Presto Chango, Sim Sim Sala Bim, Shazam, Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious; I’ve got nothin’ up my sleeve; listen to my voice; you are feeling sleepy, very sleepy.
Today’s story was intentionally paired with that of yesterday, and, in hindsight, I probably shouldn’t have matched two lengthy (and potentially heated) stories back to back; therefore, while related to The Perils of Your Own Digital Disneyland, I will minimize this long and winded diatribe. But before I get started, I want to wish you and your family a very warm welcome to the Golden Age of Distraction.
While mentally composing the structure of this story, I am repetitively distracted. What was I going to write, or say, which clever and insightful thoughts lay within moments of the next keystroke? I may never know or remember. And that’s exactly the problem, but unlike previous narratives I have no intention of providing a solution to today’s issue. There are some things that you have to figure out for yourself; so do I.
Some low-hanging fruit are easier to label, to pinpoint, to identify: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, mobile device games, and…I know I’m treading on thin ice…television, Sunday afternoon football. How about intangibles such as fame, fortune, and glory (wait, that might have been Indiana Jones)? But I suppose those are still applicable today. Is the 40-hour workweek an inside joke, in your family, and are you married to your occupation?
What emotions would we experience if we weren’t working ourselves to death? What wishes drive us? What fantasies hitch themselves to our continual busyness? Only when we step away from our frenzy can we know ~ Arlie Russell Hochschild
The real salt in the wound is busyness. How many times have you said “I wish I had more time to do X, Y, Z” over the course of one week? Are your future ambitions (or even current goals) sabotaged by the words someday or sometime? Someday, I will do that thing that is so very important to me. Sometime, when I’m retired I will achieve that specific goal.
Take a step back and look at your children. What does their weekly schedule look like? Rushing from here to there—and back again, multiple times in a day— to play sports, practice an instrument, indulge in yet another extracurricular activity, or receive additional academic training? As an adult and parent, let’s try and remember these two concepts: 1) a kid needs time to be a kid, and 2) there is an importance to simply not doing anything, and just letting your day unfold (or simply stay in your pajamas all day).
With all of the above points, one question remains unasked and unanswered. From what are we being distracted? I mean, if there’s nothing happening around us, what’s the big deal with becoming consumed by our own busyness? Begin by drawing a circle that consists of your closest family, and gradually increases in size to include global components such as politics and world events. That’s what we’re being distracted from—kids, spouses, friends, family, people in need among our neighborhood, and the list goes on and on.
Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain. ~ The Wizard of Oz
I suppose the real question to ask is this: do we actually care, on a personal level? Should I care how my kids fair academically, or is that a problem of their own? Is it of importance to maintain a relationship with my siblings and parents? Can value be found within strengthening the bonds of my marriage, even if that involves watching mind-numbing television dramas together, hours beyond my official bedtime? Within my community, could I help a homeless person or a family in need (honestly, is it your obligation)? Islamabad, London, Paris, Tokyo, Berlin, Washington, Ottawa, Rome, Copehagen, Athens—is there a ripple effect in my life caused by world events?
Absolutely, to all. There should be a checkmark beside each of those items on your list.
People don’t want their lives fixed. Nobody wants their problems solved. Their dramas. Their distractions. Their stories resolved. Their messed cleaned up. Because what would they have left? Just the big scary unknown. ~ Chuck Palahniuk
Personally, this year has been a terrific exercise in Operation Distraction Removal. I’d love to say that I have it all figured out, but I have only begun the process. I can tell you that by creating my 2017 Bucket List, I was able to focus on the items and goals in which I wanted to invest myself. I deleted numerous mobile games from my phone—an addiction that consumed hours of my day, particularly during my commute, and interfered with my legitimate Bucket List goals. Those same games overflowed into my at-home-time with the kids and my wife. At one time, the roster of active must-follow television shows registered in the double digits; today that number is three: Survivor, This is Us, and Walking Dead. I’m sure that you, yourself, have a similar list of distractions in your life too. Baby steps people, small strides.
…baby step onto the elevator… baby step into the elevator… I’m *in* the elevator. ~ Bob Wiley from What About Bob?
In the same breath, I can tell you that I may have let some tasks of importance fall by the wayside, in pursuit of my individual goals.
I believe there is an honest balance to be had. To conclude, life should not be about adding more distraction, but rather the removal of distractions, or simply a refocusing of personal priorities.
And with that personal revelation, I cross #92 Simplify life by removing distractions from my yearly list.