Recently, I’ve been contemplating distraction. I think it’s become more difficult than ever to prioritize anything, to sift through what’s important to focus on right now versus what can be put off, or what may never need our attention at all. I wonder how many car wrecks occur each year due to drivers being unable to put off checking their Facebook feeds.
The other day as I drove to work, navigating the interstate through one of Seattle’s October monsoons, my eyes caught hold of a sad illusion beyond my rain-soaked passenger window. The illusion was a dog, leashed up on the side of the freeway, alone in the rain. The reality came to me seconds later – the thing outside my window was not a dog at all, but a scraggly tree branch that looked a lot like a dog. Though I was relieved to know this was merely my eyes playing tricks on me, the sadness that pricked my heart at the initial sight did not leave me.
It’s the potential, you see. It’s the knowing that something like that has most certainly happened before – some vicious asshole decided he hates his dog, and he drove that dog out onto the freeway, leashed him to a sign post, and left him; and worse yet – we all scooted by with our stereos chattering and our wipers flicking rain from our windshields and our phones checking Facebook – and there stood this poor, wretched animal. Scared and alone.
There’s a lot of Scared and Alone out there. I think we might purposely distract ourselves so we don’t have to think about it, and that’s quite understandable, because there’s just so much – Scared and Alone are far too big for us. It might be enough that we see one someone who’s scared and alone, and we be a friend to that someone. For that to happen, we have to be ready; we can’t be too distracted. We have to divest ourselves from media long enough to notice the someones we might come across, or to see the someones who’ve been right in front of us, while all along we’ve missed it.