My thoughts (John Seksay):
I am retired and it’s great. When I was working, each day was a tightly orchestrated dance of to-dos that changed constantly without ever seeming to grow shorter or simpler. That was doubled down when I was a parent as well. So many hats, so little time.
We all have our methods of trying to keep track of it all. Mine is a simple paper day-minder that I refer to as my paper brain. It helps me to have my thoughts made visible as I decide what is most important to do. As the new digital technologies emerged, I developed computer skills and even carried a digital assistant cell-phone — until I retired. Now I have a much simpler phone, and I still carry my day-minder.
Paper isn’t digital. There is no automatic updating or sync features. No push-buttons, no quick keys. It isn’t designed to be used while driving. The net result is that when I am driving, that is exactly what I’m doing. I am fully aware of where the car is going and what is happening around it. If my phone should ring, it can take a message or I can pull off the road and answer it. I certainly wouldn’t try to write and drive at the same time. I won’t allow myself to become distracted by multitasking, especially when it puts me in danger.
Life can conspire to overwhelm us, especially modern life and its constant connectivity. Job concerns, health concerns, relationship concerns, financial concerns can have us juggling our attention as we drive down the road of life. The results are collisions with situations we could have avoided if we had been less distracted. That is why I spend a little time each day with just the day-minder. I reflect on what I have planned versus what I have done. Did my actions contribute to my happiness or well-being? If some task didn’t get done, how important was it to begin with? If it doesn’t happen, would I really miss it?
This is life by miss management. Why invest my attention and energy in things I would hardly miss? The net effect is to focus me down to the essential — the best thing I did today to make life better, the most important thing to do tomorrow to keep life good. It’s amazing how simple the to-do list becomes when you throw out the debris of distractions.
For me, that is the message of today’s scripture. A simple life may seem a bit drab to some, but it is very liberating to be free of the drama that worldly appetites bring. Wealth, fame, fashion — all extract heavy tolls of anxiety because they are targets that move and change even as you pursue them, like a treadmill with no off button. We can become so busy chasing things for tomorrow that don’t matter. The price? We fail to see things that do matter which could be ours for the asking today.
Prayer for the day: Lord, help me weed out life’s distractions so I can truly appreciate the wonderful day you have given me.
We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading. If you need a place to get started, consider the suggestions on the How to Pray page.