Why the Guide Told Us to Enter the Water Quietly

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?

4 Replies to “Why the Guide Told Us to Enter the Water Quietly”

  1. So true!
    Though I love social media, it can be a double-trouble distraction… I get less done and I don’t go deep.

    For me, going deep requires time alone, whether walking, running or making my hammock feel useful.

  2. I totally get this. Kim and I went to Lamaze class on Saturday. It was an all day session. At the end, the teacher had us do a relaxation exercise, where we had to lay on the floor together, in a dark room, and focus on visualization in an effort to relax. We just laid next to each other for about ten minutes. No cell phones, kindles, texting, email — none of it. Just us enjoying being next to each other. Sadly, I can’t remember the last time we’d done that. When we were dating, we did it all the time. A good lesson I think.

  3. Good golly. Instead of doing the writing project I MUST do today, I am surfing out here. Talk about synchronicity. Downright scary. And I really, truly do want to see the dolphins. So. Shutting down right this minute and heading into the real stuff. Wish me luck.

  4. Distractions are okay of we are strong enough to avoid the swirling time suck vortex that threatens to eat our day. What if we miss something totally hilarious? We are in the age and culture of busy = good. Sometimes busy just equals hiding.

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