It’s New Year’s Eve. I’m sitting at home, listening to jazz, eating leftover cassoulet, drinking red wine, and thinking about distraction. I’m having a hard time concentrating on the distraction issue. I keep getting up and walking downstairs to see if my laundry is done. Then I go into the kitchen and check out what’s in the refrigerator. Then I go back to my writing but forget what I was doing. Maybe it’s the wine or maybe it’s human nature. I’m developing an anthropological treatise on how we have become more and more distracted over time and with technological advances.
Oh, and by the way, I’m thinking about painting the guest room—how do you think lavender would work?
Perhaps we mortals can blame our distractible nature on The Fall. In the early days, after the rib extraction, Adam and Eve must have given one another their full attention. They probably walked around the Garden of Eden discussing books and music and the wonders of God until they bit into the accursed apple. They were not distracted until they fell from God’s grace. Then all hell broke loose and we’ve been on a downhill slide ever since.
I don’t think we were so distractible when technology was simpler. For example, before Verizon invented call waiting, we simply talked to someone on the phone until we were finished. Now we get interrupted all the time by people taking polls on our grocery shopping habits. (I think they’re lying—they aren’t taking polls, they just want to see if they can link my toilet cleaner preference with my political affiliation.) One person I will not name, but who happens to have given birth to me, tells me to hold on but she forgets I’m holding on. She’s nearly 86 so she’s excused.
Then there are the people who respond to every ding on their cellphones and text message during soulful conversations about the meaning of life in relation to the age of toilet training. They say, “Go on, go on, I’m listening.” But I know they aren’t, especially when they nod and smile like a psychoanalyst when I say, “I’m into self mutilation and last week I gnawed off my left arm."
According to my theory, what do I expect to be the next wave of distraction? I figure it’s going to be something like this: I’m on my deathbed saying something deep and meaningful to my granddaughter when a hologram image of her friend Imogene appears in the room. Imogene tells my granddaughter that she simply must come to
for lunch. At which point, my granddaughter explains that she’ll just be gone for a couple of hours and she teleports herself to Paris . Paris
Then again, maybe I should paint the guest room a deep caramel color.