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Focus on the Essentials: The Dilemma

Fit SpinnerLooking at myself in a mirror, seeking to show conviction, and in the spirit of the times attempting to self-coach, I admonish my image, “George, remember today and every day to focus on the essentials.”

If your brain—like mine—seems to function like a fast-moving fidget spinner . . . excuse me, an e-mail just came in from someone who wants to purchase 12 copies of my latest book and I will have to get back to you later.

Let’s see. Where were we? Oh, yes, I remember.

If your brain—like mine—seems to function like a fast-moving fidget spinner . . . oops, my telephone alarm just went off reminding me of something I agreed to do.

Two hours later I am back.

If your brain—like mine—seems to function like a fast-moving fidget spinner . . . wait, I just heard the postman go by. I want to go check the mail.

Okay, let’s try again. While checking the mail, my wife reminded me of something I said I would do, so I took care of it first. Let’s try one more time.

If your brain—like mine—seems to function like a fast-moving fidget spinner, it is hard to stay focused on anything for very long, and the list of things on which you try to focus at any given time are voluminous.

My interests are broad, not narrow. An insatiable desire for information is at times overwhelming. My attention span is short as my mind wanders.

Give me a couple of seconds. I need to check out the stock market movement for today.

I call it multitasking. I am not diagnosed as ADHD like my son and my grandson. I came along during a time medical personnel were not yet testing for that, and no one other than my wife, my mother, my father, my sisters, my co-workers, and a myriad of other people have ever suggested I might have some form of attention deficit disorder. Maybe you will add your name to this cacophony of people.

So, I guess—smiling—I do not have it.

While the ability to focus on a single task for a reasonable number of minutes or hours is a part of focusing on the essentials, I want to ultimately address a deeper and broader understanding of this issue in this essay and others to come.

In this busy, complex world where information in oral, written, audio, video, and virtual form is coming at us like a waterfall I recently enjoyed near Highlands, NC, it is difficult to focus on the essentials.

Our family and friends are some of our biggest co-conspirators on the lack of focus. Many times my wife and I are sitting in our den watching a news program. I am half looking at the news program because with my gift of multitasking, I am also looking up related references to the stories on my smart phone or laptop computer. My wife tends to focus on the messages scrolling across the bottom of the screen.

“Did you see that?” she will say. I answer that I did not as I was not looking at the television, but Iistening to it as I searched for something on a web site. Or, my wife will ask me a question about a news item and much of the time I say, “I don’t know,” and I pick up my laptop and look up the answer for her.

Is this information overload? Is it entertainment? Is it maddening? Yes. Yes. Yes.

Wait a minute. I just got an e-mail inviting me to come to Canada in a few months to lead a learning experience for the staff of a denomination. Let me ponder the answers to their questions for a few minutes to see how I ought to respond. This is a “hot one” as they have written to me before, and I do not want to let the opportunity grow cold before I covenant with them to meet their ministry needs.

I’m back—in body. But, I’m humming the Canadian national anthem, “O Canada.” It looks like I will be going to Canada. I also had lunch in there somewhere while negotiating with this group. Let me see if I can remember where I am in describing the dilemma we face.

Oh, yes. I’m describing the most serious dilemma we face as the one confronting us in the real mirror we gaze into. Or the virtual mirror through which we see our reflection of the world. Or the real way the world sees us through the continual selfies we share about our lives.

It is, indeed, a Pogo moment. “We have met the enemy, and he is us.” (From the Earth Day 1971 comic strip.) While this comic strip referred to our stewardship of God’s earth, it applies to so many aspects of life.

Before we can address the essentials of life, we must first deal with our capacity as individuals to focus on anything. Our lack of ability to maintain focus can be a medical issue, a psychological issue, a personality issue, a spiritual issue, a cultural issue, a personal security issue, or a lack of purpose and vision within our lives.

It can be any or all of these.

This is because I am talking about more than getting our personal life together. I am talking about getting our purpose and vision in life together. I just can’t get there today as I write this essay. There is stuff I must get out of the way.

I am suggesting without focusing on the essentials in life, we will never fulfill our purpose and vision as persons created in the image and likeness of God to live and to love.

Stating the dilemma we face is my stream of consciousness today. It is also a revelation of my personality and habits. Focusing on what is essential is much more significant and meaningful than the trite things covered in much of this essay.

Later—but before I go to Canada—we need to address focus, essentials, and how they interact. It won’t be today. It won’t be tomorrow or the next day.

Anyway, I’m supposed to be working on a different subject—a book. I missed a personally imposed deadline for finishing the manuscript six weeks ago.

Focus. George. Focus. Consider that which is essential rather than trite.

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