Admittedly, my attention, focus, and time can be consumed by “stuff”. Unfortunately, that “stuff” isn’t breaking down DNA to discover new cures for diseases or landing rovers on Mars. That “stuff” is what’s trending on Twitter, updating my Facebook page and how I am going to win my Words with Friends game with 4 i’s. This is not to mention the “stuff” of life either: work, bills, cutting the grass, trying to keep the dog from eating another one of my belts and what I’m going to make the kids for dinner (that isn’t cereal). In this day and age of instant access, it isn’t difficult to become distracted.
These distractions had been building to a crescendo. So much so, when I was “there”, I wasn’t. My mind off in some other place. When we were invited down to the beach to my wife’s aunt’s house last weekend, I saw it as my chance to clear my mind. Some time spent at the shore was just what I needed. Saturday afternoon, my kids, mother in law, and wife left for the beach. I was going to meet them there Saturday night after work. I welcomed our quick trip (I had to leave Sunday night for work on Monday) to Ventnor as a chance to rid myself of my distractions, even if it was only for a few hours. I saw it as my chance to refocus. Get back to being in the same room in both mind and body. To put off the social updates and not worry about replacing one word of a movie with a body part.
Driving to the beach, I was filled with distractions. The Schuylkill Expressway through Philadelphia is loaded with distractions. Usually the distractions are like a scene out of Death Race (complete with ’96 Toyota Supra’s armed with M134’s on the hood). I was trying to weave in and out of lanes without killing myself or someone else; I worked on staying away from the guy in the Nissan who was on the phone, fought my way in to merging before I got stuck behind a broken down car, and made sure not to miss the Ben Franklin bridge exit because I was passing the 97 year old in the Oldsmobile doing 37mph.
I stay consumed even after dislodging myself from Route 76. The Atlantic City Expressway I started thinking about work. I’m not sure if I remembered to lock the door at home. I can’t find one song I want to listen to out of the 4,000 I have on my iPod. I have had to pee since the Conshocken exit. Through the rest stop, the 47 tolls you have to go through in New Jersey, I never was able to settle my mind or stop looking at the updates on my phone.
I got to the house around eight o’clock on Saturday. My attention got there about 15 minutes later. Sunday morning I couldn’t help but think how I had to go home later in the day. The cloud hovering around my mind was in desperate need of clarity.
At the beach, we set up our perimeter of beach towels and chairs. My kids and I headed towards the surf. They were immediately in the water, negotiating the waves. I was up to my knees trying to figure out how I was going to get the sand out of where it was without seeing a proctologist. My girls never rested for a minute in the water. They didn’t notice when the current took them too far to the left or the right. They never noticed the Wing and Beer advertisement being flown over our heads every 10 minutes. They just kept jumping the waves.
After a few minutes of watching my kids enjoy the moment, I decided to take off my hat and sunglasses and join them. The three of us let the wave’s crash on our backs. We jumped the small ones, rode the big ones, and laughed whenever we got caught unaware by one.
In that time, as I was playing with my kids, I forgot about everything else. I forgot about work. Having to leave never entered my mind. In that moment, I didn’t think about posting, updating, Instagramming or hashtagging anything. I forgot about the chaffing going on in my swimsuit from the sand and put the distractions of the world behind me.
While I don’t doubt those distractions will again rise up and cloud my focus, at that moment on the beach, all that was on my mind were my girls. The three of us, laughing, playing, and consumed not by anything else other than the joy we had being together. We were oblivious to anything else around us as we held hands and jumped the waves.