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July 31st, 2018
There are endless distractions to gobble up time. Much of the economy is based on pleasure or entertainment that can also be qualified as a distraction.
Distracted from what though?
Well, what exactly does it mean to be distracted?
Dis, the prefix for the word distracted, means ‘apart, or to separate’, and we all know what traction means.
So to be distracted means to loose traction. This is a terrible and dangerous situation if we find ourselves in a car and lose traction.
But what does it mean in a more general sense and how does that relate to our life?
Turning the question on it’s head might help.
What does it mean to have traction in one’s life? Someone who has traction in their life might be said to know where they are going. That such a person is making progress. Moving towards a goal, or a set of goals.
So to be distracted is to loose clear sight of those goals and spend time driving off in meaningless directions without wonder or curiosity.
The entertainment economy exists because a person’s time is incredibly valuable. And if that time can be redirected so that such people spend that time distracted, then the value of that time is usurped by the person who creates the distraction. This also makes sense if we think about how much money is spent on a distraction, such as CHEAP THRILLS versus high-end luxury.
Now what is the opposite of distraction? How do we define traction in a real-life circumstance? What exactly are we doing if we are making progress towards a goal? We are testing ourselves. We are pushing into unknown and unfamiliar territory to figure out what needs to be done in order to achieve a goal. School has unfortunately indoctrinated us that a test is a simple regurgitation, but this does not hold when we think about what is means to be truly tested. Such a phrase evokes epic images of heroic feats. And any Disney movie will hammer it home that a hero rising to the challenge is not simply regurgitating the methods employed in earlier circumstances. The hero is using compounded tools slowly compiled through the hard, testing experience of training in order to use in new ways against a fresh and unfamiliar test.
So is life to be either a grueling test or a distraction?
No. There is pleasure in both the distraction and the test. But not all distractions fit our fancy and some tests just aren’t our mountain to climb.
There is a middle ground.
We must find the test that feels somewhat like a distraction. In what manner?
It’s useful to note a sentiment that has been echoed by countless writers over the years. In countless ways writers have said
“I don’t enjoy writing, I like having written something.”
Note where the pleasure comes from in this sentiment. It does not come at the beginning.
In contrast, how many times has it been said that the best part of the movie is the trailers at the beginning.
Between all of this is an even more important slice of the middle ground.
It’s often referred to as flow. Or being in a flow state.
The timeline of the flow state is the opposite of the movie. Where as sitting down for the movie is often the most exciting, pleasurable part, the process of trying to get in to a flow state is the least pleasurable part, when laziness and procrastination try to pull us back to youtube, facebook, or Instagram.
That flow state is a sign of balance between the grueling test, and the pleasurable distraction. Time zips by because we are actually having fun, but we are also making progress, having fun, and moving forward with traction.
So much of LEVELING-UP has to do with realizing that in many instances of life we actually can have our cake and eat it too. Just not right up front. And it will require difficult and novel, agile thinking, along with the suppression of everything that wants pleasure immediately.
LEVELING-UP requires us to find a distracting test. Something that challenges us, but rewards us during the process and continually after we have achieved the goal.
This episode references Episode 42: Level-Up. If you'd like to fully explore the references, please check out that episode next.