When I was 16, I was forced to enter into the vastly joyful experience that is drivers ed. I had never driven before showing up bright eyed and bushy tailed on my first day. When I got behind the wheel, I went through the mental check list. Open car door. Sit in car. Close car door. Don’t slam foot in door. Smile at driving instructor for special effect. Buckle up. Dramatically adjust rear view mirror. Safety first. Turn on car. Drive.
But in all the check listing, I forgot an important piece. I forgot that the car needs to be put in drive for it to actually be a car that goes places. In all my distractedness, I flipped the car into neutral and stepped on it, only to be greeted with the rejection of not moving and the realization that my previous smile to the driving instructor was pretty useless based on the look he gave me following that stunt.
Sometimes I go back to that wonderful moment in a very very very large collection of humility moments I’ve gathered up and I start to realize a thing or two.
I’m realizing one of the biggest side effects of society is the devil’s art of distraction. Everything that receives unworthy attention, every toy, gadget, next best thing, every instant gratification and screen to scroll through conveniently provides a way for us to not think. Not think about all that is bigger than us, not think about the broken pieces within us, not think about the hidden pieces in others. Its a subtle way to keep us far away from the words and thoughts that belong to heaven, and keep us in the idle state of mind in which we are most vulnerable to his discreet attacks. The authenticity of the human experience is being chipped away by this culture of things, culture of screens, culture of check lists and next best things. The greatest gift we have from God, the one that sets us apart from all of creation, our consciousness, is constantly being put in neutral.
I didn’t think about the one key factor in getting where I was trying to go because I was so distracted by everything else. Its a moment I can (sort of) laugh about now that I can actually (somewhat) successfully drive a car, but if the next place we’re trying to go is heaven, we can’t be so distracted by this world that we forget to put it in drive, that we forget to actually move, actually think, actually prioritize the only checklist that matters.