A Life Defined by Distractions

What distracts us will begin to define us; We don’t need to swing at every pitch.
– Bob Goff

Usually, the quotes of the week in our weekly bulletin, CTW, are selected by me. The one above, a few weeks back was my friend, Johnson’s choice. The words did not register with its full impact, initially. I came by the quote again a week later and this time, wrote it down in my diary. The quote must have done the rounds in my unconscious mind  because it came back to me a few times as vague intimations. There now seems to be an urgency to this message, it has taken root in my conscious mind suggesting I pay heed.

I see and make the connections….. Of the numerous times I let distractions at work rule a big part of my day at office. Of the many frequent occasions when I let senseless debates on TV steal the time I need for writing. Of letting weariness invade the time I need for reading. Of the excuses I find for not making the human connections I ought to be making. Or of letting myself be carried away by a few connections for hours, imagining mirages for real.

What I focus on, expands and grows. The many distractions invading various aspects of my life have defined a good part of my life.  In some ways, I have let myself become my distractions, confined to living as a shadow of my potential self. The distractions have kept me from reaching the other side of my dreams.

Defining us1

Several years ago, as I was reading M Scott Peck’s classic, The Road Less Traveled, my attention was riveted by what he wrote in the first or second chapter of his book on instant gratification. This is about the tendency of some people to dwell and revel in the pleasurable paths – then and there –  instead of opting to focus on the harder path of their long-term goals. People become victims of instant gratification and their long-term goals fade away from them farther and farther, till they become a distant memories.

Unawakened dreams cry for light. There is an incompleteness that yearns for fruition and wholeness. The seed wants to break open. The tethered soul is stretching to break free of its very familiar, dry moorings. The sleeping giant longs for knowing its size.

There is light at the end of the very long tunnel only if I move towards the end of the tunnel – instead of staying captive to the crippling pleasures of darkness.

Part of the preceding words is perhaps an exercise in gloomy rhetoric. Because, I have also accomplished a bit during the past couple of years. Like running  marathon, keeping my focus on my business, staying with my blog, opening up my mind through books and opening up my heart to human beings….. These are stirrings of a sprouting seed, an untethered soul, darkness ceding way to light and slow but gradual expansion to fullness.

So, there is no point in feeling despondent – like I felt some moments ago. The valleys are not signs of permanent lows of life. They exist to show me the mountain to climb.

I am fortunate that I have this yearning to climb and seek adventures to test my limits. There is a big part of me that is stretching and expanding, without me knowing it – even in those moments I feel very low and dejected. The frustrations eventually sow seeds of desires leading to growth and wholeness.

In fact, the pattern of my life so far may be absolutely perfect in its imperfections. It has put me in a place from where I can launch myself into a higher trajectory. Being in a state of mind that yearns for exploration, discoveries and achievements is wonderful in itself.

It is numbing to feel satiated, existing in a comfort zone, with nothing to dream and strive for. To wake up every morning with desires that seek fulfillment is a gift to be grateful for.

Coming back to the distractions that I have let myself be moulded by, in part, it is worth remembering Stephen Covey’s advice to keep the main thing the main thing. 

Clarity about where I want to go is important. Focusing on the goals with discipline helps me to stay clear of distractions. When I flounder occasionally I remember to keep going, egging myself on.

Most importantly, I quieten my mind, so that I am aware of the destination and the work that needs to be done to get there. A cluttered mind is a fertile ground for attracting distractions. By bringing about a meditative quality to what I do I empower my everyday moments with substance.

The trick is to be in a state of zen in everything I do. Then my life becomes the art of the possible.


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