The presence of distraction

Distraction is the presence of energies that attract our attention away from anything else that we could choose to focus on. Distraction is a useful mechanism, but like anything else, whatever we focus on will grow. It is even possible to have a life full of distraction.

I struggle with distraction. One time, I was sitting in a death-by-meeting at work struggling to stay awake among 20 other people also close to dozing off. My participation was not required. I was there for informational purposes only. The person who had called the meeting (let’s call that person, um, Unconscious) had already given me what I needed to know in the first five minutes. While I could have left, Unconscious was someone known to take that sort of behavior as a personal offense. To keep myself awake, I began freewriting and, before too long, I was well into the first draft of a short story. I had four handwritten pages by the time the meeting ended. I was part of the crowd surging for the door when I heard Unconscious call my name. Ever the good employee, I stepped aside and let the herd sweep around me. Unconscious said “I was really impressed with the amount of notes you were taking. Could I have a copy of those?”

You can guess the rest. I had to run around to 18 other people and ask them what the heck Unconscious had talked about without letting them know I had not heard a word. That story became my second short story from that meeting.

Distractions are just energies that appear more appealing than other energies that need our attention. I need to say “no” to all the distractions that come dancing my way waving their fancy little fantasies and tales of pleasure. I need to stop thinking in the Land of Supposed To Be or the Land Where I Would Rather Be and instead think and act in the Land of I Where I Am. I need to take full responsibility for my choices and take care of myself in the present. If there is a situation I am avoiding that I need to attend to, I have to stop and ask myself why. Am I waiting for the stars and planets to line up in perfect harmony? For everything to be okay so that I feel safe in taking that next big step in my life towards the Land of I Want To Be? If I continue this frame of thought, I will be waiting a long long long long long time so it occurs to me that I will probably take a small step today, put a toe (maybe even an entire foot!) in the water to test its depth, measure its temperature, and see how it might be to walk in that ocean that leads to the Life I Envision For Myself. At some point, I know I may fall off some yet unseen precipice and find myself underwater, but that’s okay . . . I know how to swim.

©2010 by Barbara L. Kass

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7 Responses to “The presence of distraction”

  1. holessence Says:

    Barbara, I really like the excellent way you describe distraction:

    “Distractions are just energies that appear more appealing than other energies that need our attention.”

    Your story about the meeting being led by “Unconscious” — and getting asked about your copious notes was great (not that I’ve e-v-e-r done anything like that …).

    Wrapping up by forging ahead into the ocean — valiantly — because “I know how to swim.”


    Laurie Buchanan

  2. Barbara Kass Says:

    Hi, Laurie! Yeah, that little note-taking escapade taught me to sit way back in the audience or to carry a concealed recorder. I always think in terms of the best productive use of my time. But those distractions seem so necessary sometimes!

  3. Snoopykg1 Says:

    Hi Barbara! Great Story and Picture****
    I like your comment “The best productvie use of my time”. This is how I operate, however sometimes it gets me into trouble and distracts me from just being in the moment. I struggle all the time with the planning bug, as I am always planning. I do however, as an example, drive my friends crazy sometimes, make plans to have that productive time with friends, by invitations to lunch, coffee, dinner, or just coming over to chat over tea or wine….those are the times to really be in the moment with not too many disctractions.

    As for the unconscious meetings, I would do the same thing if i feel unconcious, as I am usually the one taking notes that everone comes to for answers if they missed something!

    Here is an opposite story!
    I had a situation a couple weeks ago where my boss asked me take notes for a specific meeting. Well I either forgot or got my meetings switched. She then emailed and asked if I had the minutes completed and I had to apoligize because I had gotten the meetings mixed up!
    I quickly brought together my chicken scratch (sorry Sandi!) and formed a minutes within an hour!

    The funny thing was that I truly did not forget, just got my two meetings mixed up. I was at the other meeting and was surprized that the note take was there and I asked to “Go ahead and take notes” thinning I got off the hook but it was not the meeting I was supposed to be taking notes!

    The crazy part of all this is the duplication of all the meetings that are totally not productive and time wasters, hearing the same thing over and over is way overboard, not to mention the meetings where the agenda is always the same because the group never accompishes the objectives, nor moves forward.

    Have a great weekend

    • Barbara Kass Says:

      Gosh, Kim, I think humans are programmed to plan; we have to plan for winter during the spring and summer, else we would never survive. So planning is a good thing, being able to envision ourselves in the future is a survival mechanism. I suffer from having so much to “plan” for I forget to stop and just enjoy the moment and not do any planning. I agree with you about meetings. We have way too many of them, they are generally for informational purposes, and most of them are set for one hour (whether you need an hour or not). I set 30-minute meetings and require people to specify objectives and outcomes. If there is no “outcome” for the meeting (i.e., something is done, decided), then it is information only and I tell them to put that in a memo.

  4. sandiwhite Says:

    Barbara, I met one of my biggest distractions as I was heading out the door for work yesterday morning and saw my brother coming through the trees. Using sibling verbal shorthand we covered 4 or 5 subjects in as many minutes, toured the Chicken Ladies yard, remarked on Barney’s style and I left, not very late at all. My daily agenda is never written in stone, distractions will always make major incursions on my time, it’s how I spend it with these “distractions” that make the day what it is. Beneficial or just plain time-wasters, I control for the best part what direction these events will take my life. Even if I am gritting my teeth, I’ll look for a way to bring it around and find the good and use it. I truly enjoyed seeing David, would have spent more time if given notice, we’ll do it again at another time.

    • Barbara Kass Says:

      But what a wonderful distraction, Sandi! To spend time with your loved ones, sharing your life, and I know you were very present with your brother while he was there. The distractions that I am most guilty of are the ones that waste my present energy and/or keep me from taking care of what I need to take care of in the present. I know what you mean when you come across “time-wasters” and the only thing I can think to do in this moments is similar to your idea and ask myself, “what is going on with me that I would attract this person to me at this moment?” This helps me make ME responsible for the outcome of that interaction.

  5. Six Degrees of … Circular Connection « Staying Alive – One Word at a Time Says:

    […] I started with an old post from Barbara’s blog about distraction , […]

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