I was driving into work last week, and in front of me, an SUV was making a right hand turn. And for a moment, a split second really, the driver was distracted. Maybe she was fiddling with the radio, checking a text, or looking down at her GPS. Maybe there was no real reason, just a moment, like we all have, where she wasn't fully engaged in what she was doing. But in that moment, she didn't see the nanny pushing the double stroller across the intersection.
I stopped, everyone stopped.
Luckily, everyone walked away from the accident physically ok. A few bumps and bruises, a broken stroller, a dented bumper and a lot of tears, but they were all able to walk away. A miracle really.
But as I stood there, with my arm around the sobbing driver, as others comforted the frantic nanny who was trying to calm the terrified little girls (both the exact same age as my own daughter, who at that moment was probably on a walk with her own nanny) while she tried to reach their mothers, I knew no one was going to walk away from that moment unaffected. Their lives would never be the same. I was only a witness, and even now, a week later, my hands still shake a bit as I write this.
In this country, in this city, we make multi-tasking an art form. Read any job description, and I bet you will see "must be able to multi-task" somewhere in the job requirements. Why? Why must we all be masters of doing 20 different things all at once? When did care, and attention to detail become secondary to checking things off a list? And when we do 20 different things all at once, are we even doing any of them very well?
If we're being honest with ourselves, when was the last time you can say you were fully present in something you were doing? Driving to work? Doubtful. Playing with your children? Unfortunately probably not. In a yoga class? I bet not even then. Compare that to the last time you felt you did something really well. Not "well enough," but really and truly well. The truth is we're all living a distracted life. And it only takes a moment, one split second in time, where a distraction can turn tragic.
But can we really live a life where we're fully present in all things? Of course not, it's too much. "Living every moment as if it was your last" is fine advice, but it's awfully heavy. What pressure to put on ourselves! And it's just not practical in this world we live in, where multi-tasking is the norm.
But what if we made a commitment for 2 hours a day, every day, to be fully engaged in something we were doing? One hour can be spent on doing something we had to do, like finishing up a project at work, making dinner for our family or driving with our eyes on the road. And then another hour on something we were choosing to do? Going to the park with our kids, writing in a journal, enjoying a meal. Just 1 hour each where we don't check our phone or email, turn on the TV, or let our mind wander to the 10,000 other things we could probably be doing at that moment. Some days, this might be the easiest of tasks, other days it may seem impossible. But either way, whatever we're doing within those hours would be done well, with our fullest attention and deepest commitment. Plus, I think we would soon find that our life feels richer, time moves at a bit more of a manageable pace and each moment has a little more value to it.
Multi-tasking is a great skill, but even better, is living well.
yoga teacher, filmmaker, wife, mother and citizen of the world. this is my journey into radical gratitude and living each moment in pure joy.