Buddhist teachings reveal how distraction from the moment, and the reality of the moment, leads to confusion, apathy and misinterpretation of reality. But too many pasttimes are just that – built in to distract us. One of the great distractions is television, now extended to the screens of our computers and phones. Advertisements brag how we can watch our favorite shows any where, any time. Why wait in line in silence, or in conversation with those around you, when you can watch the little screen on your phone? I remember when going on a road trip meant we shared in conversation and games as the scenes and landscape changed.
And our landscape is changing, right now.
#12 in ON TYRANNY: Twenty Lessons From The Twentieth Century: “Make eye contact and small talk. This is not just polite. It is part of being a citizen and a responsible member of society. It is also a way to stay in touch with your surroundings, break down social barriers, and understand whom you should and should not trust. If we enter a culture of denunciation, you will want to know the psychological landscape of your daily life.” – Timothy Snyder
Being entertained by a good movie, book, meal is not necessarily a distraction. Distractions lend to apathy and disengagement where entertainment can lead to a call to action. A well-written book or article is an invitation of engagement. A good read actively engages the reader in a story and in some call to action. One of my favorite fiction reads: A Tale For The Time Being has motivated me on many levels.
A call to action recognizes the conversational nature of reality, where we are in conversation with our readers, neighbors and strangers. We are engaged in an exchange with the environment around us. It’s the ultimate love story really — the democracy of love — where we recognize how we are in this together. Therefore, we must stay engaged with each other, with ourselves, and with the world around us.
In your writing, stay in conversation with your subject and theme as you write, carry your field notebook with you everywhere you go, engage with others. Be in conversation with the world around you, always. When I attend meetings, have dinner with friends and family, or, go on my daily walk, I leave my phone in the car.
At night, do we turn ourselves off completely with television or other passive distractions? Can we choose to be entertained while still engaged? In our written word, are we opening up the world to others, joining in a conversation with our reader, with an invitation to some call to action?
“The soul wants to give us life and wants us to pass that gift along, to become life-givers in a world that deals too much death.” (Parker, A Hidden Wholeness)
At the start of each yoga class, after a few breaths and stretches, the teacher asks us to identify our intention for this day’s practice. Palms together in front of our hearts we make a silent prayer of intention. For me, this not only focuses my mind but is a call to action to myself. Today, dear blog reader, as a writer and human being, what intention do you take with you into the day and onto the page? What is your call to action?
Today my intention is to hold at least one conversation with a stranger, and greet everyone with a nod of recognition. Today my intention is to listen to that still Voice that connects us all, and is in everything and everyone. Today, I intend to be a hero.
Hands together in front of my heart, I bow to you.
Oh! And I have a free writers’ retreat coming up on Friday July 21st at my place. Contact me for more information.