AND/ALSO is the mortal enemy of manifestation, creation and peace.
The question ‘What are you doing?’ rarely reveals a truthful or comprehensive answer. ‘Making coffee’ comes the superficial reply, the words mumbled as she checks Twitter, resentful of a snide comment by a friend, half directed at her. With half an eye on the clock, and the other half on the overloaded dishwasher she pours her worries and anxieties into the mug, concocting a toxic beverage of illness, malady and negativity due not to the caffeine content, but to the mixed emotions, thoughts, regrets and desires that have ALSO been added to it.
If we are having coffee, why are we having coffee? What is it for and why are we having it now? All these questions should be answered and the purpose focussed upon before we even fill the kettle. By running through this process we might even find that we do not really want coffee.
But who has either the time or inclination to do this, during The Age of Distraction? A fair question, but one that fails to address the dangers inherent in leading an automatic life.
One of the Great Illusions of Our Time is that we have become so advanced a species that we do not need to think about most of the things we do, and we can accomplish them sufficiently on auto-pilot. In other words, they say, multi-tasking is the new normal. But consider for a moment the results of endless multi-tasking. The over-stimulated multi-tasker may well get everything done, just. But very little of it is likely to be done well, and even less of it done exceptionally for success requires willed concentration, the deliberate bringing to a single point your energy and strength. An automatic life in the Age of Distraction is doomed to be at best mediocre, probably unfulfilling, and in certain cases utterly empty.
I well remember when things were different. I grew up under-stimulated, where life ran at a snail’s pace and nothing interesting ever happened. I cannot think that my parents opted for this as a mindful way of living, but I do now see the benefits of a slower pace of life. A slower pace of life actually allows for a much deeper level of life experience. At first, when slowing down, a void might open. Once over-stimulated and time poor, you now become time rich, but somehow unable to adjust you tap your fingers impatiently on the table looking, waiting, hoping for something to happen. But in your failure to specify what that something might be you get your wish, in the form of drama, crisis or upset that engages your sense and back you climb aboard the roller coaster. Ever distracted, never still.
But it does not have to be this way. Indeed a middle ground can be found if we devote a small portion of time each day to the pursuit of one thing and one thing only. Start small, by eating breakfast without the newspaper, radio, TV, music, any reading or any thoughts whatsoever. When we drill this deeply we see immediately how most of us have unknowingly signed up to The Age of Distraction and are constantly doing two, three, four or many more things at once. Fine. This is where we are as a society. But maybe it is not such a good thing after all, for there is no peace in AND/ALSO.