Staring a Distraction Right in the Face

I don’t know whether or not to consider this a date. You initiated, I accepted. Here we are. We’re sitting at a restaurant. I just met you the other day but I already don’t mind you. I think I like your company. Our silences are comfortable and I am intrigued. I listen when you talk. I keep to myself because maybe I’m nervous. This is new for us both. I want to be polite and keep my phone in my pocket. It vibrates. I don’t want to check it because I want you to keep my attention. I saw it coming. You take your phone out first and smile to yourself. A private moment, right in front of me. You spend some time staring at the screen. I feel a magnetic urge I cannot fight. I pull my phone out of my pocket. It’s a message from my ex-boyfriend. Because of course. I don’t want to read the text but I do anyway. He wants to talk and can I call him. Ignore. I don’t want you to know anything about it. We look up from our phones and apologize. You started it, I finished it. Our conversation is lost. All of a sudden, I’m bored and distracted and already thinking about what I am going to do when I get home. My phone is on low battery. Our food is gone, our bill has arrived and the spark was lost in reminders of the shit we’ve got going on outside this space. We both have agendas and histories and distractions. We’re not fooling anyone. Neither one of us is ready. Distracted. Half-present. 

In recent days I’ve been reflecting on the differences between welcome and healthy distractions and harmful or unproductive distractions. A large focus is placed on balance in this realm of thinking. Paying attention to cultivating a certain level of self-awareness is very important to me, especially on a daily meditative basis. We’re busy. Human. We get caught up and overwhelmed and we lose track of what we shouldn’t lose track of and sometimes it hits us all at once.

A harmful distraction can steal your focus, time and energy, all while not benefiting you and halting your progress. A harmful distraction can come in the form of an unwelcome or tired relationship. A harmful distraction can be wasteful and negative. A harmful distraction can shrink your ego, increase your vulnerability, stretch your patience and wear your emotions thin. However, sometimes we want to be distracted. Sometimes it is good for us and sometimes it isn’t. Being aware of what is holding you back can liberate you, once you accept your awareness of it.

Fixating on rejection from a prospective romantic interest is a common example of a harmful distraction. Rejection can fill your time and make you feel obsessive or fixated on an idea that is not going to be cultivated. If you are in denial that it simply is not working out or is simply not going to happen at this time, it is not a productive focus for your energy and attention and therefore, is a harmful distraction. Listen to your friends who tell you that you can and will do better and feel better. Focus on what is in front of you, what you do have and what is yet to come. Learning the differences in distractions is beneficial to growth in an individual and empowering for the self.

It is a disservice to yourself and to your friends to be somewhere when your mind is somewhere else. Learn what distracts you and gauge whether or not it is a good distraction or a bad distraction. Allow yourself to ignore your phone, your social networks and your inevitable distractions. Learn that distraction can be a flexible binary. It’s up to you. Work on being self-aware.  Be courteous.  Be where your mind is.

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2 thoughts on “Staring a Distraction Right in the Face

  1. This reminds me of the saying that “no matter how you feel, buck up, dress up, show up”. “Buck up” tends to be left out, which it really shouldn’t. If you’re in a bad mood or worried about something, those emotions are going to linger in the air and spread to the other person.

  2. I really enjoyed this. At times it feels like the whole world wants me to be distracted, and the ultimate subversion is focus. Thanks for writing this!

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