Thursday, May 12, 2011


I snapped this photo about a month ago. Looks innocent enough, but it was quite jarring to me when I saw it. I had just dropped my daughter off at school and was rushing home to get her siblings to take them to preschool. I was hoping against hope that Daddy would have them ready to walk out the door because I had a long list of things that needed to be accomplished that day. Then I spotted this formerly iced caffeinated beverage abandoned outside the community theater near my daughter’s school, and it gave me pause.

Someone had woken up that morning, or maybe the day before, craving their favorite iced coffee. You know the large half-caff, frap with extra cream, no sugar, and a dash of whatever. OK – I made that up. Can you tell I don’t drink these kinds of things? Anyway…they had a full day planned, but couldn’t live without their coffee fix, so they went out of their way to get to the coffee shop, stand in line and pay an outrageous amount of money (probably $5 – enough to pay for a gallon of gas anyway) for their coffee. Somehow they ended up at the theater. Maybe part of the day’s agenda was to see a show there. Maybe they walked their dog to the coffee shop to justify the trip. For whatever reason they stopped near this bench put down their drink and then something…whatever it was…distracted them and they moved on with their day completely forgetting the craving, the effort, the time, and the money they had spent to get that coffee. It was not, by the way, abandoned for just a few moments. It sat there for a few days before some kind soul finally disposed of it.

The abandoned coffee is an emblem of something I feel is perhaps horribly wrong in our culture right now – Distraction. There’s nothing wrong with craving and getting a special treat, but there’s something sad about losing that treat to an external force that prevents us from truly doing what we want to do.

I think what scares me about this, and I don’t think scares is too strong a word, is the effect that Distraction has on our ability to recognize and do what is most important. We are increasingly pulled in so many directions that it is easy to lose track of what is most vital. We make mistakes. We cut people off with thoughtless words. We get wrapped up in emotional debates. We forget. We lose. We walk away.

Two people I love currently struggle mightily to overcome Distraction. My daughter is striving to learn all she can, though affected by autism, and my dear mother-in-law, is working hard to remain independent though increasingly impacted by dementia. Both of them battle the Distraction demon from different ends of the age spectrum. Meanwhile I fill my life so full that I am just barely functional. I must begin to reclaim the margins of my time, thought, and energy if I am going to make it for the long haul. I am not sure how to go about this, but I don’t want my life to look like this picture. I want to truly enjoy every drop of what life has to offer. I don't want to walk away half finished.

I am linking this post with Jenny Matlock's Alphabe-Thursday. We are up to the letter D, if you didn't catch that. Click here to check out the other creative entries, and thanks as always to Jenny for hosting!

Jenny Matlock


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