learning to be a non-multi-tasker…

“Afraid that our inner light would be extinguished or our inner darkness exposed, we hide our true identities from each other and from God. In the process we become separated from our own souls. We end up living divided lives; so far removed from the truth we hold within, that we cannot know the integrity that comes from knowing what you are.” – Parker Palmer, A Hidden Wholeness: The Journey Toward an Undivided Life

Early on in our relationship, Scott coined the phrase ‘instant gretafication’. I admit, I like immediate results.
I text. You text back. Immediate gretafication.
I post a Facebook status. People comment on it. Immediate gretafication.
I say ‘Hey look what I made’. You respond kindly. Immediate gretafication.
I need to escape. I push the power button on the tv. Immediate gretafication.

When there are empty spaces in my mind, I fill it with one of the things on my To Do list and/or one of the gadgets lying somewhere nearby me. It is VERY difficult for me to do just one thing at a time.

Eric’s been talking about Distraction Addicts. Admitting his own guilt (Hi. My name is Eric. And I am an addict.), I am amazed at how much I relate to his own temptations to fill, fill, fill instead of be, be, be.

You guys know what I’m talking about. Watching a cable news show, your brain and sight is inundated with flashing side notes and various running tickers at the bottom of the screen. Newscasters are going back and forth between themselves while pop-up pictures are appearing in the screen.

We are losing the ability to do just one thing. Our brains are being re-wired and re-mapped to adapt to all these distractions. Eric’s example on Sunday probably hit me at a true and vulnerable place in my heart: The ability to read a book.

I have always been a reader. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t reading. As soon as I could read chapter books on my own, I indulged in book after book after book: Little House on the Prairie series. Encyclopedia Brown mystery-solving books. Nancy Drew. When I was older, it became Amityville Horror, Mary Higgins Clark books, Flowers in the Attic (books that would scare the heebee geebees out of me now!) I read every Danielle Steel book as soon as it was hot off the press.

Then C.S. Lewis, Chuck Swindoll, John Grisham…

Biographies.
History books.
Fiction and Non-fiction.

Yet now, my mind can only slow down enough to read a few articles in a magazine. And THAT’S pushing it.

I’ve blamed it on age.
Life expectations.
No time, no time, no time.

I have never considered the fact that it may be that my mind has been in the process of being trained to multi-(quadrupli!) task at all times. My brain has lost the ability to just ‘sit still’ and fully engage in one thing.

It was very convicting to hear Eric talk. And disconcerting to think that in order to engage and be present, my brain will have to be retrained (not unlike my arteries being reprogrammed.)

The addiction of distraction means that we are able to remain on the surface of life at all times. Embracing depth is too difficult.

{swallow hard with me}

Do you relate to this?
Sure, there are times that I feel something deeply. That I experience a deep and meaningful event or time. But my personal life – in quiet times that are averted by way of tv, Facebook, or texting – I prefer to remain on the surface. The surface allows validation. Immediate gretafication… When I’m feeling insecure, I can always flit off a quick text message and get an immediate response from a friend. When bored, or facing the “down time” of a traffic stoplight, I can flit off a quick FB message that will surely muster up some responses from friends: allowing for the surface, temporal feeling of validation. Someone out there is listening to me and ‘cared enough’ to respond.

Eric used the story of Elijah in the Bible. Elijah was told to go outside for the Lord God was about to pass by.
Elijah looked for God in the raging storms…
the earthquake…
the fire…

But it was after all of these things were over that God spoke…out of the silence, Elijah heard God speak.

We (I) spend a lot of time trying to hear God in the chaos. I try to fit God into the chaos instead of listening for His direction in the Silent Places of my life.

I must (MUST) learn how to do One Thing again.

When I have Scott’s full attention, I feel validated and loved.
I really hear what he is saying.
And I feel as if he is truly hearing what I am saying.
He looks me straight in the eyes.
And is usually holding my hand or has his arm around my shoulder.
Present.

Relationships require intentionality, attention and vulnerability. Whether it be a marriage, a friendship or a relationship with God. A relationship built on texting will never survive the storms. A FB messaging relationship will not be able to ever be truly Present in life.

I am being challenged to go deeper. To spend quality time in my personal life. To not be tempted by the sexiness of immediacy.

I’m trying to learn to do just. one. thing.

Parker Palmer’s quote zinged me to the bone. I do not want to be ‘separated from my soul’ in order to satisfy the moment. I would rather dig down deeper and stir up the muck. The snails living at the bottom of my soul. The rotten leaves that have settled there and begun to decay in lieu of activity at that deeper level.

I simply must re-learn how to go deep, slow down, and live more authentically close to the hidden Wholeness that lurks in the deeper waters of my day – below the surface of Distraction.

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One thought on “learning to be a non-multi-tasker…

  1. Wow! What more can I say? I find myself in the same situation. It drives me crazy to be home with “nothing” to do, so I am learning the same as you.

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