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Sunday, May 1, 2016

The age of distraction

Friday, March 5, 2010

At 2 a.m. Thursday I was sitting awake in bed. I scanned channel after channel after channel, just looking for something worth watching.

Finally, I found something worthy of my attention: a senior bowling tour event from sometime in the mid-1980s.

I wish I weren't kidding.

That was when something dawned on me. Four or five half-finished books were lying next to my bed, untouched in days. Dozens more unread titles line the shelves of our office/spare room.

But it isn't just the books. I still own a guitar I meant to learn to play 10 years ago. It hasn't happened yet, but the optimist in me still believes it will.

Hey, I have a son on the way. Maybe I can learn to play a few songs for him. Sounds like a good excuse, anyway.

There's also my journal, untouched in a couple of weeks. I mean, it's not like I've had anything to write about. We just found out the gender of our unborn child. My mother-in-law had surgery, causing a very emotional day for her three children and all involved. Some pretty amazing things happened in the winter Olympics.

I wouldn't want to write any of those down, would I?

Even as I write this, there are a number of new albums I should be listening to for upcoming reviews. Instead, I'm listening to Uncle Tupelo's Still Feel Gone for the 463rd time.

Is there any productive reason for this? I haven't listened to Uncle Tupelo in a while.

We hear all the time about children and adults have ADD (or ADHD or whatever they call it now), but I'm beginning to think our society has ADD. Who needs books when something shinier and louder could catch your eye at any moment?

When J.D. Salinger died in late January, I remember deciding to revisit his catalogue. He published a whopping four books in his 91 years on this earth, and I happen to own all four of them. None of them weigh in at much over 200 pages, so I figured I could knock it out in a couple of weeks.

Instead, here it is in early March, and I'm about three quarters of the way through the very first one. I'm a total failure.

It isn't just the reading that suffers. In spite of the way I always put it off until it has to be completed (take this column as exhibit A), I love to write.

Yet, can I write when there are dead bowlers or World's Strongest man competitions on late-night ESPN Classic? What about Japanese gameshow clips on YouTube? I have to keep stalking all my favorite celebrities on Twitter.

I want to tell you I'm turning over a new leaf. I want to say I'm going to devote X number of hours each day to reading, writing, paying bills and other serious adult tasks.

The problem is, I think we all know I'd be lying. Instead, I'll continue as I am, changing channels (literally and figuratively) from one interest to another. The last thing I'd want to do is miss something.