Look Up, Look Down, Be Distracted, Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out

Ok, I’ve had it. I’m here to argue in favor of distraction. In favor of tuning people out. In favor of disassociation. Of taking your mind somewhere else. Got your back up? Good. Let’s start there. This occurred to me last week when I actually made it through my first Zumba class without paying any attention to Zumba at all. I actually was able to get through the entire class without paying any attention to the music, the routines, the class, the exercise, or what I was doing. OMG, what a relief. I have no idea what I looked like for that hour, but that’s another blog.

Unless you have no smart phone, and have managed for the last week to avoid all social media AND the nightly news and all the morning shows and all cable TV, then you have seen this “Look UP’ video as contained in this blog.

First, let me say, I am a BIG fan of Eckart Tolle’s the Power of Now. One of my favorite books. As a firm believer in the concept that the only time we really have is now, and that the only concept we can really conceive which is like infinity is “now”, I love his writing. I believe everyone should practice, at appropriate times, living in the present. Second, let me say, before anyone gets out the hangman’s noose for a lynching, that driving is one of those times. Ok, no distracted driving. No texting, talking, makeup applicating, reading, eating, sexting, sexing, drinking, drugging, bugging, blogging, frisbeeing, carpentry, plumbing, bra extricating, gymnastics, or other activities while driving. But be honest, there are SOOOOO many times you just don’t want to be in the present, and we’ve been trained since little babies to execute this glorious exercise called distraction.

First there were the awesome children’s books, exhorting us to develop, exercise, and use our wildest imaginations. “Where the Wild Things Are”; Walt Disney Movies – Air Bud, Annie, Alice in Wonderland, Aladdin, The AristoCats, Bambi, Beauty and the Beast, Cinderalla, (I printed a list, and I’m only on the C’s, do I really need to go on with my “we have a hard time with reality argument?), comics, movies; toys; dolls, the list is endless. Anything to allow our minds to be ANYWHERE but where they actually where. Then school. OMG. Is it any wonder that any of us with any sense learned how to daydream/ disassociate, while still looking like we were paying attention. And who said it better than Timothy Leary?

And thank you MOTHER!!! Wow, she didn’t just lecture – she could drone, rage go on for hours! With her, I perfected that ability to hear, but not listen. That “is it real, or is it Memorex ability”. You know, that “What did I just say” test, when they suspect you have completely tuned them out. That ability to completely and accurately repeat the last sentence or two as evidence that you are actually listening, when in fact, you have just learned to dedicate the smallest portion of your brain to their drivel, while you think about something you really care or are interested in.

Most people have perfected this art, as it works for teachers, boy/girlfriends, spouses, and children. My daughter was a little too smart for that. Once she said, “Daddy, do I talk too much?”. I had to be honest and say, “No, sweetheart, I just can’t listen enough”. She was gracious enough, when subjected to a child of her own, to mention to me that she used that comment herself a year or so ago. I never would have survived 20 years of marriage if I had actually LISTENED to any of that. Hearing any of it was bad enough. I only wish I had had a smartphone screen I could have sunk my face in. You millenials are so lucky. You actually get to SHOW the world you’re bored, disconnected and distracted.

So, STFU about the smartphones already. I bet Angeline Jolie doesn’t have to tell guys to put their smart phones away. Ok, I admit, there are such things as bad habits, and I appreciate the few times my GF has pointed out I’ve used my phone too much or in such a way as to be hurtful to her. Duly noted and appreciated. But otherwise, smartphones have just allowed people to make obvious what they have been doing for millennia – tuning out their kids, spouses, family, friends, bosses, relatives, and on and on and on and on.

And you know why? Because if you actually had to LISTEN to all that BS 24/7 you would kill somebody/yourself. So, when you want to be present – be present. When you want to be distracted be distracted. Turn on, tune in, drop out. All the rest of you, mind your own business.

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