Battle Buddy Series – A Prayer for the Easily Distracted
By Darian McIntosh
I don’t know about you, but I think that collectively speaking, we hold ourselves accountable to someone or something of a higher power. For me, it is someone: God. I am not trying to get into a religious debate but I am merely here to make a point. And the point is, that to me, God has a sense of humor.
Case in point: Early on in my week, I decided to make this week’s article about something that holds me back ALL THE TIME; being distracted. Now, in theory, having the subject matter down early should mean that I get started right away. Logically, by the end of the week, when I should be nearing the time to wrap up my article, I will have had wonderful little bits of musings and tidbits to show how I have adapted and overcame this little distractibility problem of mine and how you can too.
Alas, every time I set about my task at hand, can you guess what I was met with? That’s right…good old distractions! And here I sit, knowing that the time is nigh for me to have my musings wrapped in a neat little bow and ready to be posted. Instead, it is here I sit on this final day, utterly distracted. How’s that for a sense of humor?!
For every brilliant thought I have had throughout the week, did I stop what I was doing to jot them down so I wouldn’t forget? No.
And did I forget them? Yes.
For every time I cleared my workspace to batten down the hatches and sit down to write, was I relentlessly interrupted by a 4-year-old, whom two seconds before I sat down, was blissfully coloring or playing with her Legos? Yes.
And for every time I actually did have peace and quiet, did I sit down to start writing and get completely distracted by thoughts of shopping for things online that I don’t need, while sitting in front of my computer to write? Yes, I absolutely did.
These are all things that have happened and are currently happening to me now as I actually am writing this. Distractions from accomplishing our end goals are real, especially in today’s world of technology. The distractions that I have spoken of are only minor ones that can happen to a person. I can only begin to imagine what might be going on in YOUR life that has the potential to derail the things you want to accomplish most in this world. There are some distractions that can be downright tragic.
The Wisdom of Youth
My four-year-old is a lovely little girl but, as any of us parents know firsthand, is a bit selfish with her time-management skills. She is learning and hopefully, will someday master the concept of sharing her time, but for now, her motto is currently set at “It’s all about me.” Not in a manipulative way. There are quite a few adults that still hang on to this motto and should absolutely know better, but she is a kid that hasn’t learned much beyond her own little world. Sure, she knows that others exist and can even feel sympathy for all creatures, but it is in the art of empathizing that we stop believing that we are at the center of the world (if all goes well, that is.) Learning to comprehend the feelings of people who have lived a life filled with hardships due to circumstances that you will never, ever have to personally experience…well that is something that can only come with more life. Certainly more than four years. Suffice it to say, she takes up a lot of my time.
But what I love most about raising a child again (in case I never mentioned it, I also have three adult children, all of whom have flown the coop) are the reminders that they also have a lot to teach us. We tend to forget this fact until we are humbled by the simplicity of it all.
Obviously, when preparing for a marathon, the number one thing we know we need is perseverance in order to accomplish this goal but that can be easier said than done. As adults, we tend to think in larger chunks. We start at the beginning but our focus tends to be pinpointed on that finish line. The middle parts are more of an aside or an afterthought. We know we need to wade through the muck and mire to get to the finish but with nary a thought of how we may go about it. We especially don’t want to think of what might happen should we run into a brick wall set right in our path.
Eventually, life shows us just how difficult the journey to the finish line is. Distractions, though bothersome, can actually be quite welcoming at the time when the path gets too rocky. Secretly, we may even enjoy some distractions and get thrown off the path entirely as a result. If we don’t have a plan for allowing our goals and our distractions to live harmoniously, we may simply find a smoother road to travel. The problem with this less arduous path is that it is often much less satisfying when we get to where we are going.
Being surrounded by childlike innocence reminds us that we can learn to enjoy the middle part a bit more by riding along with the same sense of innocence. Kids tend to get through the muck and the mire by breaking it down into much smaller chunks. They don’t mind getting a little side-tracked. They don’t mind getting muddy. Often, they like it. And when a kid wants to do something, they ALWAYS come back to it, no matter how much it drives other people crazy.
For the last two weeks, my daughter has had one main goal in mind: to learn the words and sing the song from the movie Moana called “How Far I’ll Go.” Oddly enough, she is a bit scared of the role that the water plays in this movie so she doesn’t particularly want to watch it but LOVES the song. Naturally, she has enlisted my help in her endeavor. We have spent a lot of time playing the video of the song on YouTube and I have watched the video that includes the lyrics for my own advantage. She is not yet at the reading age so she is at a disadvantage and has to do it all by memory. This has not stopped her.
I, on the other hand, am finding this a very difficult song to learn the lyrics to as well as to learn the beat of. She has further thrown me off by insisting on playing both the movie version and the Alessia Cara version which, at different intervals, has a different beat from the original, further throwing me off in my goal to successfully sing this song all the way through.
I am taking this goal a little too seriously. She is having a blast. As a result, she can outsing me on this song despite her disadvantage. Why? Because she is not taking herself too seriously and is enjoying the ride at her own leisurely pace.
Speaking of distractions, I am having to stop my writing because my husband and daughter are outside with their sidewalk chalk and calling me to see an accomplishment that she has mastered. I am pleasantly surprised to learn that she has mastered writing her name. We have been working on this for quite some time but she never could quite get the letter R down. By not feeling pressured to a timeline, she figured it out.
My not-technically-genius-on-any-measurable chart-child is still able to show me the sheer genius that is looking at life through her lens. Goals are often achievable but we should be forgiven for being distracted from time to time, mainly by ourselves. Not all goals have to be on such a strict timeline and if we learn to enjoy the middle and break it down into smaller chunks, we are less apt to give up on the larger chunk. Instead of that previous pinpoint focus we have of the finish line which is so tiny, our focus can expand exponentially. Now we have so many different lenses we can look through!
Running a marathon can feel less like running on a treadmill and more like frolicking across all the beautiful expanses that the world’s different terrains have to offer, a little at a time. Children are geniuses!
One of the lines in “How Far I’ll Go” talks of the roles we are born into and how Moana is contemplating how she should roll with the role she was given simply by being the daughter of the island’s Chief. But, as the title indicates, she wants to know how far she can go beyond that role. I like the idea of being able to roll with what life throws at you, i.e. distractions, so I think I’ll roll my last thought into action step #8 (see what I did there?)
Battle Buddy Step #8: Find your sense of adventure (and roll with the punches.)