About 4 years ago, I backed my car into our garage door. I had “forgotten” to open it before I started the car and put it in reverse. I had been sucked in by the “Under Toad”. Here’s how I had described this beast back then:
In one of my favorite novels, “The World According to Garp” by John Irving, Garp warns his son about the undertow at the beach, and the son then imagines a monster who lurks beneath the sea waiting to suck him under, known as the “Under Toad”. While the metaphor it represented in the book was much darker, I have recently connected the Under Toad to my own life.
In my world the Under Toad is the accumulated weight of thoughts of the past and future that literally pull you under the present, to where what’s going on at that very moment is of the least importance. This particular Under Toad is dangerous too, not only dangerous to truly living the “Half-Full” life, but potentially physically dangerous.
After this experience, and the valuable lesson it generated, you would have thought I could have arrived at June 3, 2010 with a clearer head and the virtual disappearance of the Under Toad. Truth is, I haven’t. Further complications have ensued.
This little monster still lurks in the shadows of my daily life, but it has now taken on a physical form that has proven to be even more dangerous.
It has morphed into my Blackberry.
And boy, oh boy, what a struggle it has become.
Case in point: Driving a car.
There is absolutely no question that when I am driving a motor vehicle, my attention should be fully focused on that task. And yet, when the Under Toad is sitting in my cup holder, it yanks at me incessantly, buzzing and blinking.
“Look at me! There’s gotta be an e-mail, or a Tweet, or a Foursquare check-in in here that’s worthy of a potentially fatal car accident!”
No, there is not. But, have I, in a moment of weakness, glanced over and tempted fate?
And that’s where I HAVE to draw a line. That’s where we ALL have to draw a line. Let’s just say this:
“If there is something or somebody in front of us that needs our attention at that moment, and any reasonable person would determine they are worthy of such attention, by virtue of the relationship, or risk to one’s life or well being by not paying attention, then we should ignore the Under Toad, and JUST PAY ATTENTION”
Just think of all the accidents we can avoid, or friendships, business partnerships, marriages and other special relationships we could preserve, if we all could follow this “new rule”.
I know I’m not the only one – all I have to do is look around me on the freeway at the folks texting (texting!!) while they drive, or go to meetings or other get-togethers where the Under Toad is in full roar, pulling eyes (and brains) into the cesspool of distraction.
This post is a great wake-up call for me to once again pay attention to paying attention. I hope, by reading this, it does the same for you.