Life continues even as we do our best to stay distracted by the immediate, the urgent – our work, our deadlines and promises.
On a weekend away with friends, I retreated to my room for a couple of hours each day so I could fool myself into thinking I was on top of work. On emerging, someone asked how my nap was. No nap, I said, just catching up on a bit of work.’ ‘Oh’, she said, ‘still trying to save the world?’
This off hand and friendly comment provoked some self-enquiry: Was I trying to save the world?
I continue to hope that some of my efforts help the world – or at least the people in it, and I could not continue doing my work unless I thought it was useful, but saving the world??
Nothing so grandiose. But too frequently my behaviour belies that. And I’m not alone.
The work I do is worthy and to me, meaningful. But it’s no more worthy than anyone else’s work. How easy it is to lose my place in the bigger picture, and exaggerate the importance of what I do even when the evidence of this delusional folly is clear.
With so much to overwhelm us, it is easy and indeed, comforting to be consumed by the swirl of our own making.
I look at the politicians who have recently done some very important policy setting – the NDIS and education reform – very worthy work but we, and they, continue to be distracted by their self-aggrandisement and politicking.
I read the other day that the CO2 levels in the earth’s atmosphere are the highest they have ever been and have attained this record well before it was thought possible. Has anyone noticed? Far easier to stay distracted.
I read daily of devastation and global catastrophe – far easier to stay distracted.
A friend of mine recently had a stroke that left her verbally incapacitated. As she re-learns speech I notice she is not at all distracted by the things that consume most of us. Her focus is on recovery. Her brain is a problem to be solved, her speech and verbal capacity something to be rewritten and rewired. Until she can do that not much else is possible. I watch as she sheds off any distractions; focused on one thing alone and I am sure that such focus will ensure she achieves her goal.
Imagine the how much could be changed if we harnessed the energy we spent on distractions and collectively focused on the attainment of something significant? Imagine how much would be possible if all of us had the opportunity to influence change, not just a minority of people in positions of power and influence who come from a narrow demographic slice of the population.
Significant change requires collective action and commitment. It needs a foundation of people committed to achieving a compelling goal. It requires us all to pay attention, focus and galvanize. It needs us to remember what’s most important and avoid the distractions that inevitably dilute our efforts. It requires women working alongside men and leading the changes we need to see.
But first we must learn to stop and pay attention.
And with so much to distract us, that seems hard.