I'm pooped. I mean it. Our contemporary culture and its accompanying stresses has left me exhausted. Not in the physical sense, mind you, but in the mental. The speed at which everything runs today is zapping my cognitive resistance. What is eroding in me is attention. I can't focus.
Despite our wondrous technologies and scientific advances, we are nurturing a culture of diffusion, fragmentation, and detachment. The thesis of a very important book by Maggie Jackson entitled Distracted posits that the way we live is eroding our capacity for deep, sustained, perceptive attention – the building block of intimacy, wisdom and cultural progress. She writes that
"Increasingly we are shaped by distraction…the seduction of alternative virtual universes, the addictive allure of multitasking people and things, our near religious allegiance to a constant state of motion: these are markers of a land of distraction…This is why we are less and less able to see, hear and comprehend what's relevant and permanent, why so many of us feel that we can barely keep our heads above water, and our days are marked by perpetual loose ends."
It suddenly dawned on me that I no longer waste time. My days have been subdivided into smaller and smaller units of efficient time. I have lost reverie. Reverie is a state of being lost in one's thoughts; to daydream. When is the last time you daydreamed? When was the last time you deeply pondered a sunset, or sprawled on the grass with your arms behind your head letting your thoughts wander with the movement of the clouds?
If, like me, it's been a while, then you are overly distracted. We are in essence not nurturing our inner selves when we lose reverie. I encourage you to go ahead and waste some time every day. Don't let the efficiency bug infect you. Give yourself permission to go against the speed, expectations, and distractions of your life. Don't respond to the annoying "ping" of arriving email – stay focused on the task at hand. Shut off the television and read a book for two hours straight (think you can?). Don't check Facebook or Twitter for a whole week. Have a three hour dinner with good friends. Let go of the guilt for wasting time.
You'll be a more interesting and deeply peaceful person as a result.