Why I like distractions
Okay. So everybody hates distractions. You are working on something important, and you get a message, or a call, or the kid decides to tape your cat to the ceiling fan, or someone at work wanders at your desk and wants to ask a real quick question. Or you distract yourself with an important cat video or a quick peruse at Instagram, and never seem to get anything done.
It sucks. Totally.
But I had a bit of an epiphany today. It was the last class of the improv course I've been taking, and the instructor made us do annoyingly hard things in front of the class, like "you can only use three word sentences" and "you must have a dialogue without ever using the letter 'U'". And they seemed completely arbitrary, but we did those nevertheless because it was all so much fun, but then he said something remarkable: These exercises are designed to distract your conscious mind from the fact that you are performing in front of people by giving it something else to think about. Avoiding a letter, thinking in three-word sentences, using only sounds without meaning... It's all just a ruse and a distraction for the busy mind that keeps worrying about such things like "how do I look" and "am I funny enough".
This, I believe, is an important lesson. Distracting yourself at the right moment is a skill that you can learn and use to a great advantage. We often just distract ourselves without meaning and without the skill by glancing at the phone or just calling; but a skilful distraction can free your brain from a dead end it has driven itself. Some people take walks, or listen to music, or even sleep before making a hard decision, but I think this again is a skill you can develop consciously.
Magicians are known to spend endless hours to practice how to cause unnoticeable distraction in other people. You think you're following what they do, but your attention is exactly always where they want it to be. They know how to draw your attention to the right place at the right moment, and play the fine line between distraction and attention. So if they can do it, we all should be able to distract ourselves at the right moment to free our mind.
Douglas Adams wrote in his Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, that the secret to flying is to distract yourself at the right moment so that you forget to hit the ground. To me it's always been a very comforting idea, and a demonstration of the power of a good distraction (obviously ignoring the physicist screaming inside me).
I don't know if this makes sense - it's been too long since I've actively written things like this in English, and I feel I'm a bit rusty. Oh well.
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