The Art Of Distraction
"A distracted existence leads us to no goal"
- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
I was flipping through the news channels one evening not long ago, and the pundits were spending a lot of time talking about "soft stories" and how they serve to distract us from the more important, critical issues of the day. They spent so much time talking about one particular soft story and wondering why everyone was spending so much time on it that I began to feel that they were being self-defeating. But I digress...
It is true that we have all sorts of things that we use to distract ourselves from facing what we really have to do sometimes. We procrastinate, we justify all sorts of things to ourselves, and we try and do anything other than what has to be done. I think we've all been there, and that's certainly one kind of distraction.
There is also the other kind: where we are distracted by all that we have to do (or believe we have to do) and run the risk of missing some very simple, profound moments in our daily living.
Have you ever noticed that if you take the time to ride a bike or walk down a route you've always driven, you discover so many things you never saw before because you were always rushing past? Distraction in life is like that; we rush through so much of our day that we are distracted from some of the best things going on around us!
"But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made."
- Luke 10:40
It reminds me of the story of Jesus and two sisters that he befriends: Mary and Martha. He goes to visit them and while Martha is going crazy trying to be a hospitable host to a guest, Mary is just sitting at Jesus' feet, listening to what he has to say. This drives Martha crazy and she asks Jesus to tell Mary to get up and help her. Sound familiar?
And then Jesus basically says, "Look, Martha, you're really worried about this whole dinner; relax! We don't need anything fancy - we really only need to be together and enjoy the time. Mary gets that, why don't you?"
Mary knew the value of the time she was having, and she didn't allow herself to get distracted from it like Martha did.
There's a valuable lesson there about what we allow to distract ourselves from special moments that may never come around again. Yes, we are busy and there is a ton for each of us to get done every day. Sometimes we don't even take a breath until our heads hit the pillow at the end of the day.
It is all the more important, then, with the realities of life being so busy, that when we have days like that we allow ourselves time to be still and enjoy life at a slower pace; to walk the paths we normally race through at a far too frenetic pace.
When we allow ourselves this freedom from distraction, Jesus would say we "have chosen what is better."
As often as we are able, let's make the better choice.