Saturday, October 9, 2010

Driven To Distraction

I was up fairly early this morning, and completely at a loss for a worthy topic for use as a weekend rant (not that worth has been a particular consideration a great deal of time when I get in front of a keyboard). In keeping with the theme of this blog however, I decided to take a break from my labors by taking a walk in the beautiful fall weather and clear my head by 'blowing a little smoke". The feeling was that perhaps through the enjoyment of some of the simple pleasures in life I might become inspired to some lofty subject or great piece of writing. 

As this unfortunate result might indicate, it did neither. It did however distract me from the pursuit of such a lofty goal long enough to foster the very idea that you see before you. I find this to be often the case, and carry a pad of paper with me, lest I forget one of these occasionally interesting notions. 

Perhaps it's a mild form of ADD that exhibits itself as an inability to focus attention on a subject for any great length time. Perhaps it's just an increasing form of male immaturity that manifests itself as the attention span of a two year-old (no offense to two year-olds intended). Perhaps it's simply the need that we all have from time to time to be carried away from our cares and concerns of the moment by some random thought. 

It occurs to me in fact that perhaps many of us achieve our best thinking when distracted from the circumstances of our lives and find ourselves and side-tracked by something else entirely. It likewise causes me to wonder how many of the world's great discoveries were made by those who were similarly looking for one thing and through some random distraction of thought discover something else that proved to be potentially world-changing. 

Sure Edison was looking for the secret of light bulb, but how many other things did he invent (or allegedly steal from other inventors) while searching for it? Galileo was attempting to make some of the greatest scientific discoveries of his time and to pursue his true passion for sculpture when he was distracted from such pursuits by requests for paintings. Columbus (whose holiday is Monday) was looking for a route to the East Indies when he was distracted by a little thing that later came to be known as the 'New World'. 

It seems in fact that many of the things that have become pivotal to the world in one way or the other were in fact mere distractions to those involved. The famous science fiction author Robert Heinlein once said, "Progress isn't made by early risers. It's made by lazy men trying to find easier ways to do something."

And while I couldn't agree more, I would venture to add that it's also often found by people driven to distraction in the pursuit of that easier way; and finding something entirely different and equally valuable instead.

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