Solitude weapon of mass distraction
Distractions surround us and seem to increase exponentially with the passage of time. There was a time, not so long ago, when families didn’t have 24-hour access to outside distractions e.g., before it was commonplace for homes to have electricity.
I remember my Grandpa saying “the television will be the death of the family”. That was back in the early 1960’s. What exactly did he mean by that statement? Would televisions morph into serial killers like science-fiction robots? Maybe the energy emitted by television screens would cause cancer? We were told not to sit too close to the T.V., but maybe that was to prevent us from going cross eyed?
Anyway, before the inventions of the radio and the television family members entertained one another. This was called “talking” or storytelling, a rudimentary form of communication (for those of you under the age of 30 : ). Where there was a time having electricity was viewed as a luxury it is very much a necessity of our everyday lives. Party-line telephones (phone lines shared by multiple households), radios, and televisions were the first automated devices we willfully permitted to distract us. At first it wasn’t permitted to distract us 24-hours a day. Nope. People were not yet addicted to these forms of distractions so advertisers were only willing to pay for airtime during “normal” waking hours (7 am until 11 pm / midnight). Having only 2-3 channels, with a maximum of 15 hours of airtime, television could only offer about 45 hours of distractions per day. Some estimate there are over 25,000 available channels worldwide today. If each of these channels were on-air 24 hours each day the result would equal 600,000 hours of televised distractions per day!
For the record, I believe there are benefits from some distractions as long as we are in control. What? Aren’t we always in control? Good question. A long, long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away (1998, St. Louis, MO) landline home phones were still a mainstream necessity. If the telephone rang someone better answer it! I mean, what if it were an emergency? You should have seen the expressions on their faces when one evening at the dinner table the phone rang and I said “just let it ring”! Three people (Donna, Isaac, and Allie) were already out of their respective chairs and headed for the phone. Stopped in their tracks their collective faces started with looks of perplexity, changing to shock, then to anger, then to pain! What had I just done? I could hear the fabric of life itself being torn from end-to-end.
To be clear, there are undoubtedly distractions that were bothersome long before the spread of electricity. I am sure certain family members could also be considered “distractions”, especially when multiple generations lived under the same roof.
So what’s my point? Or, is this just another DISTRACTION? My point is this: many distractions are controllable but it is up to each of us to take that control. Other distractions are not as easy to control but we can apply limitations.
“After He had dismissed them, He went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, He was there alone.” MT 14:23 (NIV)
First, Jesus dismissed them. They probably would have stayed as long as he would have allowed. Second, Jesus changed his surroundings. I’m sure Jesus could have rationalized that he could stay where he was to pray since most of the people had gone. Third, Jesus prayed. It appears Jesus spent additional ‘alone time’ besides the time needed for his ‘formal’ prayer.
As my prayer life matures, I find that I need more dedicated time alone. It also means I’m finding I can also pray even when there are distractions. Practice makes (almost) perfect.
Daily Reading: Solitude Weapon of mass distraction