Such is life…

Distractions are as ordinary as, well, distractions. So many things blink, flash and scream for our attention; so many things are distracting. In our ‘get something done’ world, anything that distracts is a problem.

How do distractions work? They take advantage of impulses, lack of control, reactions in-the-moment – thoughtlessness, instinctive, knee-jerk kind of responses that make us wonder Why did I do that?!

Remember that Facebook update from a friend saying, “I’m signing off Facebook for a week (or month, or year, or forever) because it’s too distracting” – but it’s nice that they leave a note to explain why we won’t see hourly updates of what the kids are doing or what lunch looks like. That all-or-nothing approach to eliminating distractions seems like it should magically solve the problem. But it doesn’t.

BrokenFence_smallThe old rabbis (are there any other kind?) told a story about distractions that is a little different from our all-or-nothing solution. It’s about building fences – those binary, all-or-nothing, either/or reactions to distractions, impulses and what we should probably just call life.

We’re sure fences should work, but they don’t…

Such Is Life

In the Talmud, so I’m told,
there’s a how-to about how to
control impulses which get
the better of us all, ever day;
it goes something like this,
build a fence around it –
that impulse which distracts
and makes us forgetful
of the right ought of duty
in pursuit of the wrong ought
of desire and appetite,
and when that fence
doesn’t work, which it won’t
build another fence around
the fence, and when it fails,
which it will because all
fences fail, look at the mess
of fence-building you’ve
made all for an impulse
that was probably harmless
and now build a fence
around fence-building
before you forget
what’s truly important;
for such is life, my friend.