Distracted Living

This week I feel like a walking proverb. I keep relearning lessons I should have learned by heart years ago, and almost always the hard way. Yesterday’s lesson was the old English proverb “Haste Makes Waste.” The teachable moment occurred as I was hurrying out to our shed to jump on the lawn tractor and mow some overgrown grass before an approaching rain storm arrived. On my 30 second walk to the shed I realized my new I-phone was still attached to my belt, and my gut instinct was to take it back into the house and not risk having it fall off my belt and get lost.

But to save the few seconds that would have taken I ignored that notion and hurriedly mowed for 30 minutes or so before the rain started. The grass was very heavy due to a lot of recent rain and at one point I knew I mowed over something that I had not seen in the long grass. Thinking it was a stick or a plastic plant container near the garden I hurried on, not realizing I had chopped my new phone into a million pieces until I finished mowing and realized the phone was no longer on my belt.

Bottom line, the minute I “saved” by not taking my phone back into the house cost me several hours to file an insurance claim, a $199 deductible, and another $60-80 to replace the case the phone was in. Later today I will spend more time activating and updating the new phone when it arrives. Very costly lessons learned.
Ironic that the ever-present cell phone that represents so much of the nano-second, 4G driven pace of life today should be the sacrificial lamb to remind me again to slow down and trust my instincts – you know, that nagging little voice that tells you what you should do that we/I so often override with the cultural norm of faster is better. I have learned that I can actually survive without my phone, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been reminded of how dependent/addicted to it I am as I reached for it or thought of something I could do if I had it.

A good friend helped put things in perspective when I sent him a picture of my phone’s remains. He said, “Well at least it wasn’t a body part.” Very true, but I must admit sometimes it feel like it is. We hear warnings all the time about distracted driving, and that is a major concern. But it is only a symptom of a much larger problem – distracted living. My minor mishap reminded me that there is much more at risk from distracted living than a shiny new I-phone.

When I am not fully present while driving or when talking with another person, I am risking far greater damage to myself and others than the loss of a marvelous handheld computer. When I am not fully present and appreciative of the beauty of God’s creation and my responsibility as a steward of that creation because I’m too busy or too preoccupied to savor and save it, I am disloyal to the one who has given me life. When I am in too much of a hurry to play with a child or notice a homeless brother or sister or to be sensitive to the needs of my neighbors, I need to be reminded to be still and breathe in the awareness of what really matters in life.

Poorer and wiser, I pray for the sense to remember those lessons long after the new phone restores my life to “normal.”

(Note: Part of that return to normalcy will be to continue my series on Pentecost very soon.)

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