Distraction: /di strakshen/ n: something that diverts attention, something that interferes with concentration or takes attention away from something else.
This week, I’ve worked very hard at creating and polishing the synopsis for a novel. It’s been great fun (because I love this stuff!), but also was difficult considering the distractions thrown my way. We were able to buy cars here in the Czech Republic over the past few days, which honestly is an enormous relief and blessing. And also, at the end of our quiet Prague street, a laugh-out-loud situation unfolded involving a neighbor’s clogged sewer line, and the maintenance guy stripped down to his skivvies spraying raw sewage with a pump into the neighbor’s yard. Yes, that was quite a distraction.
These days, surely I’ve adapted to many of the constant disruptions characterizing the life of a mom of three boys. Despite the accidents resulting from being distracted—the raging oven fire, diapers and crayons and other things thrown into the laundry, etc.—our lives haven’t suffered too much from my mistakes.
But on a personal level, I’ve had to deal quite a bit with the long streamer of distractions perpetually stuck to my heel. There are always committees for which I’m asked to volunteer, groups to join, shopping to do, parties to throw. By the end of each day, it would be so easy to miss out on spending time with the people and doing the things that we love. Maybe that is my definition of distraction: those things which take us away from the people and activities we love most. The pieces of life which pull us in a million directions, and lure us from excellence into mediocrity I also call distractions, because our attention is constantly pulled from the main thing.
Each of us has a different definition for the main thing, for mediocrity, for goals, and life, and living, and thriving. And each of us has to find a balance if we want to become excellent at a few main things, rather than spread thin to cover everything. Ordering Your Private World, by Gordon MacDonald, is a tremendous book for guidance on finding and pursuing the main things, and gaining order in our own worlds.
I think there is one benefit of distraction, however. We are able to long for the main things when we’re distracted. I find when I’m tending to the other things in our lives that need my attention, the anticipation within me builds, waiting for time to immerse myself in the main things, like writing, or spending time with my family.
Life will always be filled with distractions. Perhaps, though, in turning the distractions into good, as springboards into the things in our lives that matter to us most, then we can find peace with the distractions, and harmony with the daily-ness of living.