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May 23, 2018

Furry Little Distractions

(Dug, the talking dog in Pixar’s Up)


My friend Don McLaughlin tells a story about his family’s visit to the Grand Canyon. They were all standing at the rim, mouths agape at the sheer size and spectacular beauty in front of them, when a tour bus arrived with a new group on onlookers. It was a large coach carrying a group of Japanese tourists.


The bus came to a stop a few hundred feet away from the canyon, with the exit door facing the other direction, toward the surrounding trees. They all poured out one-by-one, with Canons and Nikons in hand. This was not unusual. What struck Don was this: All these visitors, who had traveled so far (and spent so much) to see one of the world’s great vistas, stayed on that side of the bus, fascinated by and taking numerous pictures of the squirrels in the forest.


These good people had to be led by their guide away from those little furry distractions to experience the real purpose of their journey, and one of the true wonders of life on this planet.


I confess, I need such a guide as well.


Like those tourists, I have spent vast amounts of time and energy and money to experience what life has to offer, only to be led astray by furry little distractions.


Don’s story occurred many years ago, and our willingness to abandon our ultimate goals for shiny temporary objects (or furry little distractions) has always been part of the human experience. But life in this 21st century, I believe, is categorically different. Never before have we been surrounded by this many squirrels. (Seriously, the squirrel population on earth is out of control, but I digress). The supercomputers in our pockets offer our eyes more immediate distractions than our brains can handle, and it has led to the following conundrums:


—We are more connected than ever, but feel more lonely and depressed
—We have more information than ever, but feel more anxious about making any decision
—We’re busier than ever, but less productive


The 21st century has delivered us more data and powerful connective capabilities than most humans could ever dream of, but let’s be honest—its greatest legacy, at this point, is one of shrunken attention spans and infinite distractions, fake news and conspiracy theories, endless envious scrolling of other people’s edited profiles, Candy Crush Saga, cat videos, and ads. Never ending ads.


So, I need a guide. I need someone to lead me away from the furry little distractions (which are customized just for me, based on my browsing history) and back toward the real purpose of my journey. I need a plan to steer me away from what I want right now and back toward the dreams, the experiences, and the life I want most.


How about you?


Peace begins with pause,