the lost art of focus

the lost art of focus

In our fast-paced, 24/7 world, multitasking is a highly coveted skill. On resumes, we proudly boast of our ability to juggle multiple tasks at once. In daily life, we marvel at our mastery in manuevering across multiple devices. We congratulate ourselves for being multitasking machines--able to do more stuff in less time. Faster. Better. More...but at what price?

There is no doubt that moving quickly, working efficiently and juggling the endless demands put upon us are essential survival skills in this day and age. But I fear that what we gain in productivity, we are losing in appreciation for the experiences we have. What we achieve in terms of quantity, we suffer in lost quality. When you flit from one thing to the next, spinning plate after plate in endless succession, are you even there, when you're there? Are you present in the moment?

For all its benefits, multitasking can also be a curse. We're scattered, distracted, and rarely maintain focus long enough to remember or even care what we did days, hours or even minutes before. On to the next, and so on and so on.

The epiphany hit me on vacation as I watched my son devour a slice of watermelon. It was a hot summer day, save for a slight warm breeze blowing through the trees. He had spent the day doing a little multitasking of his own: dipping his toes in the water, playing in the sand, throwing rocks, and buzzing around like a busy, if more than a little distracted, toddler.

But when we busted out the watermelon, he was a little man on a mission. His chubby fingers grabbed the juicy wedge of heaven and off he went, all by himself, to a cozy spot on the deck. He bit in with reckless abandon, pink juice dripping down his mouth and rolling onto his chest and bare little toes. No napkin. Heck, no shirt. No rules. No problem. Every now and then, he'd pause to spit out a seed, and then he'd go back to bitefuls of bliss.

He was fervent. Focused. And completely immersed in the moment.

When he finally chewed his way down to the bright, white rind, he flashed a huge chicklet smile and squealed, "More!"

People often use the expression "You should look at life through the eyes of a child." I wholeheartedly agree with the sentiment...but it feels just a bit too passive. "Sink your teeth into it." That's more like it. When the rare opportunity presents itself, don't just skim the surface. Stop everything. Focus. Single-task. Savor it.

Those are the moments you'll remember. The sweetest ones. The ones that last. The ones that count. The ones that matter most.

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