Thursday, January 19, 2006

Why I Cannot Pay Attention

Edit: 10-15-11

In the early 1970's, Studs Terkel interviewed a receptionist in his book, Working. The biggest complaint about her work was interruption, constant interruption. When she first started as a receptionist she tried to read books (long books, good books). But, she eventually gave up. Eventually, she began doing word searches. She traded in big books for big books full of word searches because she could do them and still answer the phone. Conversely, she also found that being a receptionist made it really hard to have deep and meaningful conversations. She couldn't. After doing the work of a receptionist- being interrupted all day long- she eventually became a receptionist- a person constantly distracted- all day long.

If I allow myself to be constantly interrupted by cell phone calls, e-mails, text messages and Facebook updates whenever they ring, beep, chime or refresh, what will it do to my sensibilities after a while?

Will I become a "receptionist?"

I am becoming something everyday- either good or bad, compulsive or constrained, thin or deep, greedy or giving, based on how I live in the little details of life that make up the composite of who I am.

Fear of becoming hyper-distracted certainly makes me pause considering the fact that most of us living in the the third millennium, reading blogs, have more potential distraction coming at us in an hour than any receptionist had in a whole work week in the 1970's.

I want to be connected... to the people I can see and touch.

I want to be available... to those in the room.

I want to hear... the words being said by my own flesh and blood.

I want to read... long books, good books.

I want to concentrate... on things that last.

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Thursday, January 12, 2006

Better to Give than Receive

Here is what I have produced in the last two weeks. I have written thousands of words and spoken twice as many. I have preached a New Year’s Day sermon. I have taught kids about God, counseled a family in crisis and a little boy traumatized by a murder. I have made chili and corn bread for twenty men, cleared brush in my backyard, made a fort for my eight year old, cleaned out the garage, taken down Christmas lights, torched the Christmas tree in three easy installments, cut down the dead growth in my gardens and planted a “color bowl" as a surprise for my wife, Catherine.

It feels good to produce. It feels good to realize that I am more than a consumer. Strange, I have to remind myself of that. It seems as if I cannot stop the beast of consumerism from overpowering me. It seems as if there is an unwritten rule about consumption- it is my obligation to consume in order to keep American a land of the free and a home of the brave.

I need to DO something, contribute something, make something to add life to this earth in some significant way other than consuming products and information.

Edit: 10-15-10