Monday, February 25, 2013

Distraction

When I was talking to my husband about how distracted I've been for the last week or so, he said that my daughter had told him that St. John of the Cross or St. Augustine, or someone like that said that distraction was like having a monkey loose in the house. That pretty much describes the situation inside my head lately. I cannot have two thoughts together before one of them goes zooming off in another direction. When I sit down to read the Office or any spiritual reading, I get to the bottom of the page and realize I don't have a clue what I read. I start over again--same thing. I cannot get through a short morning offering without going off on a tangent in the middle of it. This is making me crazy, and making me do some crazy things.

This morning, I had an appointment to have some blood drawn in preparation for my physical on Friday. When I was about halfway to the doctors office, in other words when I had gone about 20 miles, I realized that I had planned on getting there at 8:00, which was the time for Friday's appointment and not 7:10, which was the time for today's appointment. So, with another 20 miles ahead of me, I was already two minutes late. Thankfully, they were very nice about it.

Then, I lost my glasses at work. I kept looking in the three places that I had been and the glasses had just disappeared. Other people were looking. I sent an email to the entire staff asking them to keep an eye out for my glasses. Unfortunately, this was attached to another email that said that I had found the toaster that I had lost earlier, but that's another story. At least I provided everyone with some amusement. Well, I finally found them in the restroom where I had already looked three times. I can't recall that I ever took my glasses off in the restroom before.

My run-away thoughts haven't kept me awake at night, but I've been having very involved and intense dreams. They aren't bad dreams for the most part. Some of them are really nice. Most mornings I wake up remembering some pleasant things. But they are very busy. Apparently my brain is still working overtime even when I'm asleep.

Well, my daughter just called and said that she doesn't remember that conversation, but that it sounded like Teresa of Avila, so I did a Google search and came up with a passage from a book called Don't Trust the Abbot:Musings from a Monastery by Jerome Kodell, which says that Hindu tradition says: 
When I sit down to pray it is if I am under a tree full of monkeys  As soon as I begin my prayer, the monkeys begin to chatter and swing back and forth to get my attention. Suddenly, I find myself in the tree with the monkeys  as soon as I realized this, I descend to sit under the tree again.
It reminds me of one of my favorite books that I think I've mentioned before.


 I don't seem to be able to descend. Further on he says that St. Teresa of Avila said that distractions were like having a crazy woman in the house. Well, that's for sure, but I don't seem to be able to rid myself of myself.

So, I'm just trying to offer it all up. Maybe the Lord has decided that it's a good Lenten exercise. Should you happen to be having a nice little quiet time of prayer, you might offer one up for me.

AMDG

14 comments:

  1. Funny. Today T and I were talking about your glasses (she was getting new ones).

    Love this post.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So, you think Ryan feels like this?

      AMDG

      Delete
  2. Man, I sure know exactly what this is like.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've been asking myself all week if you are like this all the time. I can just offer it up for you and my other friend on Fb who said he was like this--and my grandson.

      AMDG

      Delete
    2. Yes, I really am. Not so much the losing stuff, though that happens, but most especially "cannot have two thoughts together before one of them goes zooming off in another direction." I'm not sure how much of it is just me and how much is my circumstances. Objectively, I really do have a big amount of disparate stuff to deal with, in my job and at home, and I think I could be better if there were less of it. If I could give up the internet.... Continued focused prayer just seems an impossibility for me, so I just hope I get some credit for trying and not giving up.

      Interesting about the dreams. I do tend to dream a lot, often quite intensely (good and bad). Or at least remember a lot. I used to work with someone who said she never or very rarely dreamed.

      "Monkey in the house" is perfect.

      Delete
    3. Well, if this is what you put up with when you try to pray, I will certainly give you a lot of credit.

      It seems to me that I dream all the time, but some dreams are just a mish-mash of non-related things, and others are more like watching a movie. The later are fairly coherent for a period of time and when I wake up, I feel like I need to go back to sleep to accomplish whatever it was I was doing. Lately I've been having this second kind. I'm not sure how I know this since I don't remember them, but I do.

      AMDG

      Delete
    4. The only ones I do really remember are the ones like movies . . . except that I'm in them, and they're still a mishmash of unrelated things. I had one last night that I still remember (though as soon as I say that it fades away, so I have to kind of sidle up to it . . . ): we were driving home from somewhere, and for some reason took a wrong turn (or maybe it was a right turn and we were looking for something) and ended up in what I think was either a hospital or a conference center. Our car must have just dissolved, because in the next frame we were going up and down escalators trying to figure out where we were going, in this kind of public-space-orange interior environment, and then we came around a bend and were on a patio where a bunch of people were eating lunch at a table, and they turned out to be friends of ours from Salt Lake. The most true-ringing part of the whole dream was that I looked at them for a good minute thinking, "Those people look kind of . . . ," before I recognized them. And then I got all their kids' names wrong.

      So if this was a movie, it was a movie about distraction and forgetfulness. Not coming soon in theaters near you.

      Delete
    5. I dreamt that the CFO of the seminary did my eye surgery using cocktail shrimp.

      AMDG

      Delete
    6. Janet, when I laugh this loudly at work others find it disturbing.

      I am one of those who rarely remembers dreams; don't you have to sleep a certain amount before you really get into the dream stage? I'm pretty sure I'm not getting the requisite amount.

      Delete
    7. Well, it didn't hurt. And this is what I think is so great. I'm having an operation to peel a membrane off my retina and the shrimp were peeled!

      AMDG

      Delete
    8. And thanks for the link, Craig.

      AMDG

      Delete
  3. Distraction is a huge problem for me in every area of my life, but especially in prayer and spiritual reading, to the extent that I tend not to try to sit down and focus (though I am making myself with some renewed vigor, having just reread and re-reread In This House of Brede). Unless I'm reading the psalms aloud to someone else, I do that exact thing of getting to the bottom of the page and thinking, "What?" Of course, I do that when driving, too, which is maybe almost as alarming. "What? I'm already in Gastonia? How did I get here? What did I pass on the way?"

    I don't lose my glasses, but that's only because they're never off my face, except when I'm asleep. I'm about ready to Superglue one of my children's glasses to that child's face, however, because if remembering where I am and how I got there is hard enough, remembering where that child was the last time I saw her with glasses on is . . . well, there's not really a word for the combination of "hopeless" and "impossible" which I wish to express here.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, I sometimes look around and realize I've gotten to Memphis. This is more likely when I'm saying the Rosary while I drive.

      Since this is the first time since I was 7 that I do not have to wear glasses all the time, I have a hard time keeping track of them. I've had that problem with children,too. Of course, years later I found out that one of them didn't really need the glasses and lied at the eye doctor so that she could have them like the rest of us. She didn't have much need to keep up with them.

      AMDG

      Delete