Distractions From Life
Narrative Art by Claudio Rodriguez-Valdes

Distractions come in many forms and often disguise themselves as “important,” but are nothing more than habits we develop which can keep us from fulfilling our true purpose in life.

When I was a kid in the 70’s and 80’s I remember the thrill of Saturday morning cartoons. I loved shows like Bugs Bunny and Tom and Jerry. They would play an episode and then about five commercials, another episode, another five commercials and this pattern would repeat throughout the morning. The commercials were usually pushing some sort of sugary cereal, or a toy that all the kids wanted, or another cartoon that was coming on next. It was genius advertising loaded with hyperactive children and spazzy animations. What kind of an affect does this have on a developing mind? Now as an adult when I hear about conditions such as ADD and ADHD I wonder if these are not direct results of this kind of programming.

If we were to look at the way our society functions in today’s time, it’s no wonder why it’s so difficult for us to stay focused. Kids today don’t know what a world without Internet is. They’re constantly stuck to some device either on Facebook or YouTube or playing video games. What’s scary is that it’s not just the kids, it’s the adults too. It’s so easy for us to put our children in front of a screen just so we don’t have to be distracted from the screen in front of us.  I remember being at the zoo in the late 90’s and I saw a man talking on his cell phone While his son was playing a hand-held video game. At the zoo! It was such an eye opener for me and a true sign of things to come.  Now everywhere I look I see people glued to some piece of technology, or working themselves to the bone, or drowning themselves in alcohol just to ease stress.  These behaviors are a disaster just waiting to happen. I know, because they are all patterns I myself have been caught up in and the bottom line is that they distract us from our real lives.

I have to constantly evaluate myself and to know when I’m distracting myself. I see how easily it is for me to get distracted and avoid the things that really matter. This is why I created a to-do list. It helps me stay focused on what needs to be done. There’s a catch though, my to-do list is also a distraction. I find that I get caught in a constant state of doing and trying to get that next thing checked off  my list. I’m constantly trying to organize this or that, so that I won’t be distracted by it later. I also see ways in which I collect and organize things, such as music on Spotify or videos to watch on Youtube as being a distraction for me. It draws me in and nags at the back of my mind if I feel things are out of order. Now, this doesn’t mean that organizing and trying to put order to my life is a bad thing, but when it’s distracting me from what really matters then it’s worth looking at. Some things in life are actually more important than making sure my music is placed in the right category. Everyone has their own forms of distraction. What’s important is to recognize what they are and to know when we use them to avoid our real responsibilities.

Distractions keep us from doing the things that really matter to us. Sometimes this means doing nothing at all. What matters is different to each individual, so it’s up to each one of us to figure it out for ourselves. If you don’t know then check what your feeling the next time you’re involved in one of your past times. You’ll know when you’re diverting your attention from those things that really matter to you, because it usually leaves a feeling emptiness or of being unfulfilled. For me, some of the things that matter are telling my wife I love her and actually spending time connecting with her, working on one of the children’s stories I’m writing, or spending some quality time just connecting with the divine within myself.

I’m concerned by what kinds of disorders, yet to be discovered, that may be developing in children today, especially now that I’m a new parent. I’m also concerned that my son won’t know the same joys of growing up playing outside as I did when I was a child. This is why my wife and I have decided to minimize our entertainment intake, so that we don’t set an example that this form of relaxation is normal. This is not easy since we live in a completely different world than the one we grew up in. For example, we have computers in front of us all the time, being as this is how we both work, which is quite normal in today’s world. Although adjusting our habits and behaviors may help, we also want to instill a sense of self-worth, the value of having integrity and also, that regardless of all external advice given or input taken, that the true answers to our son’s inquiries will always lie within his own heart.

Distractions From Life
Narrative Art by Claudio Rodriguez-Valdes

There are so many things to teach our son about the world and even more that he will teach us about ourselves. We come into this life innocent, without any concept of the world that has been left by those before us. It doesn’t take long before we lose that purity and become a product of the culture and the society that raised us.  Once this happens it becomes hard to find our way back to our original place of innocence. If we try, then we are faced with who we’ve become and so we must handle our baggage. Although this appears daunting, the struggle to reclaim our innocence is how we find out who we truly are, not to mention what we’re really made of.

The important thing to remember is that the way back lies within each one of us. Deep down inside our hearts we know what really matters to us. It only takes a moment for us to listen to what it has to say for us to figure it out. With all the distractions in this world it becomes difficult to stay on focus. It becomes even easier to avoid the things in life that we don’t want to deal with, but life doesn’t wait for us. It will pass us by in the blink of an eye and there is no second chance. We must get off the carnival ride and see the patterns that make us stuck. Once we discover what truly matters in our lives, then nothing else will stand in our way and we will know the true meaning of freedom.

Please check out more illustrations by this incredible artist, Claudio Rodriguez-Valdes.

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