As I drove out of the supermarket parking lot yesterday, I congratulated myself. Proud that I remembered to bring my groceries with me!
Years ago on a nice spring evening, a Thursday, I exited the same supermarket parking lot minus the eight bags of food and drink items I had just purchased.
Back in the days when my daughter was on the crew team at her high school. Moms (always the moms, let’s be honest here) took turns hosting the team on the Friday nights before Saturday morning regattas. We put on big spreads which, if memory serves, mostly featured some kind of pasta casserole, bowls of salad and buckets of garlic bread. I’m sure there must have been a vegetable side dish and dessert too.
On that Thursday before my turn at hosting the team dinner, I drove after work to the supermarket nearest my house with the “Crew Dinner To Buy” list in my purse. It was dinner time – I was hungry, I was tired, so was everyone else. My body may have been at the store – but my mind was still downtown – at the law firm – too many client matters remained on that “To Do” list. I walked up and down the aisles, pulling the items for the anticipated bunch of carb-craving teen athletes in a semi-automated fashion.
The check out lady smiled as she scanned my purchases – having a big party? Yes, I probably said. I paid, left the store and steered the overflowing cart outside the store and left it in the “pick up” area against the silver bars en route to the parking lot. My intent must have been to get into my car and drive around to the pick up lane to retrieve the eight bags from the cart.
But instead I drove home. Two miles away. I pulled into my driveway. Still thinking about work, I am sure. Knowing I had emails to check and a project to complete. Parked. Then opened the trunk to find it empty. Because I had left all of the bags in the cart in front of the supermarket. A swear word was likely emitted at that point.
That is the last time I recall being as distracted as I have been in recent weeks.
I did drive right back to the store. Luckily, the cart was where I had left it 10 minutes earlier, I put the bags in the trunk, drove home, took the groceries out, unpacked them, made dinner for my family, caught up on work – and then hosted the crew dinner the next night. You know the busy/working/mom drill.
I no longer work downtown (still a mom though, and now a grandmother too, just for the record so you can tell that maybe through increased age alone, I’ve earned the right to have distracted moments.)
But now I am distracted much of the time. No longer by lawyering. Or by my kids. Or by my husband. Not by events on my calendar. And I do not have a sudden onset of ADD nor any neurological problem (I get checked.) No, my distraction comes from my own inability to focus for more than 10 minutes without having an insistent craving to turn on the news.
So I do. I check my twitter feed. I look up news alerts. I listen to the radio. I have the TV on in the background. All for fear of missing some new crisis that might have happened while I was doing the laundry or taking a shower.
The crises keep erupting, one piling on top of another, breaking news breaking into new breaking news, breathless reporters and chatty commentators. And yes, I could turn it off. Yes, I should turn it off. But I keep checking for updates.
Last night at book club we talked about this. A few of my friends are not as dominated by the need-to-know-now as I am. Lucky them! Others seem to be able to stay in control of their news needs. I’m jealous.
Part of my problem is I am less busy in the summer. I’m not taking a writing class this summer. With the end of the school year, my college-advising volunteer projects have slowed. Fewer meetings, a lighter schedule, more unstructured time.
Anticipating this summer lull, I created my own structure. A big project. My Work-In-Progress. I am writing a novel. Writing at least four days a week. The plan is to complete the draft by the end of August before fall semester begins and I am back in the classroom (with homework.)
What’s my “WIP” about, you ask?
A working mom, a lawyer, with two kids (how creative to use my own life as inspiration!?) dealing with friendships that go awry, possibly unscrupulous clients and unexpectedly competitive colleagues. I even wrote an outline. And I’ve already written 50 pages – 15, 556 words, to be exact. Only 64,444 more words to go!
If only I could be more disciplined. More disciplined and not as susceptible to distractions. Like I once was as a law firm partner. Busy, busy, busy. Far too occupied to fret about possible news of ultra-scary national and world events.
Or maybe that was a less complicated time when breaking news didn’t break every ten minutes. Focus, I keep telling myself. Look away from the media. But it is difficult. Distraction is my biggest dilemma this summer.
I am certain I am not alone in feeling this way.