27 March 2011

what lent is teaching me about distraction

For once, there was no music or radio going in my car. And in that silence, I heard a noise. A whir? A ping? {Is ping a word used to describe car noises?} Perhaps it's a scraping, metal-on-metal sort of noise?

After listening for awhile, I've decided it's really more of a creaking noise coming from the back of my car.

Is that a normal noise? Does my car always do that?

And here's where the panic/self-reassurance cycle sets in.

Panic: My tire is going to fall off, omg.

Self-reassurance: I'm sure that's a normal noise, and you've just never heard it because you always have some other noise distracting you.

Maybe it's Robert Segal on NPR explaining why the economy is recovering even though jobless claims are up for the millionth month in a row.

Or maybe you're distracted by singing along with Carol Burnett in Once Upon a Mattress. "Though a lady may be dripping with glamour / As often as not, she will stumble and stammer / When suddenly confronted with romance..." Don't you kind of want to sing with me now and forget your panic?

Panic: Remember that one time you went to the mechanic, and he said, "Now, I don't want to alarm you, but your hose {internal side note from the past: what hose? How many hoses are in my car?} could be corroding right now. And you'd never know it until something bad happens"? Remember that time? Your hose, one of them, all of them, could be about to explode. Or something.

Self-reassurance: But remember, too, how you figured out that that mechanic was just trying to take advantage of you? You with your 'girl alone in a new town and unsure of what hose he's talking about' look on your face? If there was something wrong with your car, your new mechanic would've told you when you got your car checked recently. You are all right; the car is all right.

Panic: My tire is going to fall off, omg.

Self-reassurance: Sigh.

My internal voices are no help when it comes to my car because my car is a mystery to me. A mystery that came with a very long instruction manual explaining everything, but still a mystery because I haven't read that manual.

When something goes wrong with my car, I do what any typical 20something with a liberal arts degree would do: I take it to someone who knows what a chassis is.

{Case in point: When I hear the word "chassis," I think of the Irish play Juno and the Paycock, where Captain Boyle, drunk and confusing his words, declares, "Th' whole worl's in a terrible state o' chassis..." This is useful knowledge, I guess, when wanting to dig into literature, but it does nothing for trying to figure out my car.}

In short, when I'm in my car, I'm not paying attention to my car. It does its job, and I fill the time and space with noise, a little bubble of entertainment.

Except for right now.

Right now, I'm halfway through Lent, and for Lent, I have given up distraction.

Sounds deep, eh? I can make it sound deeper and more spiritual: I have given up what is distracting me from a fuller communion with God.

I'm not trying to be flippant {all internal dialogue above aside}.

I really am seeking a more connected time with God this Lent.

But it's one thing to sound deep, and it's another, more challenging thing to take a look at your day and pinpoint distraction so that you can figure out how to break the deep into the practical.

For this big Lenten idea to work, I broke the pretty rhetoric into practicalities {necessary for a perfectly practical girl like me}:
  • no TV or movies when I'm alone
  • no music or radio in the car
And so this leaves me in silence. A lot.

Ostensibly, this silence is to focus on God, to pray, to sing random church-y songs that are in my head {I have many of those}.

But as you can see, my brain usually takes the silence in the car as an opportunity to panic, which I wish it wouldn't do.


I have more to say on this Lenten distraction fast, and I'll say it soon. In the meantime, I'll reassure you: my tire did not fall off. Yet.

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