The guide in the boat warned us about making too much noise, so one by one we crept quietly into the Pacific Ocean, just off the coast of Oahu. We weren’t supposed to swim or talk – just relax in our life jackets. Just float.
Then the guide gave us the signal, and I rolled over on to my stomach and peered down into the water through my goggles. The view shocked me – the water was so clear that even though we were in twenty or thirty feet of water, I could see the bottom in detail. I felt like I was floating twenty or thirty feet above the ground. I thought I would fall.
Then, the reason for our silence – a school of dolphins shot underneath us, their tails pumping. Above the surface, with the sun glaring off of the water, we never would have seen them. But peering into the depths gave us an entirely different viewpoint.
* * * * *
There are things I want to do, things I want to accomplish. There are words I want to write, concepts I want to sink into. Books I want to read. Friends I want to interact with.
Yet I am drawn to distractions, things that divert my attention. They bring temporary relief because when I’m distracted, I forget about how far I am from where I want to be. The mountaintop, so far off in the distance, disappears behind the fog. Distractions help me to ignore the hard work required to get there, and when I waste time watching too much television or being consumed by social media, my drive is anesthetized.
* * * * *
I used to think the main problem with distraction was that it cut down on my productivity. I should be reading more. I should be writing more. I shouldn’t have any down time.
But now I’m starting to realize that less productivity isn’t the main issue. In fact, sometimes less productivity is a good thing.
The worst part about distraction is that it keeps me at the surface. It’s like swimming in an incredible lagoon but never diving down into the depths. Distraction tethers me to the petty crust of life.
I do not stop enough. I am not still enough.
I want to spend more time looking down into the deep.
What do you do in order to stay focused? What kinds of activities help you to explore the deeper things of life?