Exit one exit two

I want to talk about two things - distraction, and occupation.
There is a difference between being distracted and being occupied. Distraction is temporary, pressure-free, a way of stepping out of everything. To be occupied, however, is to be immersed in something, involved in it. And yet both terms are used when discussing a means of self-removal from something, when that thing begins to get heavy and a break is needed.

In order to occupy oneself, any individual must prepare for the small amount of discipline that it will involve. To stay put and get on with something, even for the sake of leisure, being occupied with it means to make sure you stick at it.
But in order to be distracted, no amount of effort is required. Distraction is everywhere, in what we hear, see, taste and touch. And for a lot of us, distraction is our chief form of occupation when escaping from the everyday tasks life presents us.

To say that one is bored and cannot focus on one thing may be true with regards to anything that is more substantial than a television commercial or a song on the radio; but to be actually, and continually, distracted, our minds sent wandering in many different directions at once (sometimes without us even detecting the changes in direction), it is safe to say that we are occupied with distraction all our waking moments, and perhaps even in our sleep.

Distraction is in the bottle, the cigarette box, and whatever can be purchased with that credit card a few inches from your hand. It is the constantly pressed Refresh button, the endless chapter ones, never allowing anything to get too serious (or, even worse, boring).

But occupation, even if it something that you enjoy (or think that you did enjoy but no longer enjoy because you have forgotten the rewarding pleasure it brings) really can sound like work (and nobody likes that word anymore). But what's wrong with picking up the paint brush, instead of the television remote control? What's wrong with dusting off some long forgotten musical instrument instead of spending another night in an over-priced bar? Is it really so difficult to open a book and enter its world, compared to finding the most uninspiring thing to read in some colorful magazine?

It is too easy for us to lose our way in a world of relentless distraction, and it could take a will of iron to demand anything else. This could take effort, for sure, but we need to take back our interest in what interests us. This are dim times for the life of the mind. Let us take back our passion for what makes us feel alive.

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