Monday, September 26, 2011

The Tyranny of the Urgent

It's a saying that I have heard before - and remind myself of time and time again - "Do not mistake the urgent for the important".  I didn't realize there was a book written about it... in 1967!  (with a sequel and a reprint in the late 1990's.... apparently we still struggle with the concept!  I know I do...).

Needless to say, the reminder was perfectly timed.  I lay awake for a while last night, contemplating the tasks to be done and time in which they must be completed.  It didn't seem possible.  On my good days, I just do "the next right thing" - on the not so good days, I feel overwhelmed to the point that I can't really do *anything* - including sleep.

So, I try to prioritize, and figure out which things truly are important and which are merely urgent.  Unfortunately, the urgent things tend to scream a little louder than the important things do.

But then, there are the not-even-urgent things that we (I) treat as such.... my phone ringing, for example.  I have made it a point not to answer it during dinner, and not to be talking on it while I am checking out at a store, because I feel that's just flat out rude... but any other time, it rings (or bings, or vibrates, or any of the other indications that there may be a call / text / email that is demanding my attention), I reach for it... almost instinctively.

I think back to the days before there WERE cell phones....  somehow we survived.  Before email... before (*gasp*) Facebook!  I remember, "back in the day", when we had to sit down and hand write a letter, mail it and wait.... Before cordless phones were available, and you were "lucky" if you had a 6 foot cord to the phone. (Would I tolerate a phone with a "leash" now?  No way.) There was much less "multitasking" - and certainly less of it while driving! 

And THAT is what I love so much about the title of the book.  It is so honest in it's description of our relationship with the urgent..... tyranny:  "Cruel or oppressive government or rule".

And I accept it.  Willingly.  I accept it as "necessary" and "convenient".  *COULD* I live without my smartphone?  Technically, yes, I could.... do I want to?  NO WAY!  Does it - in some twisted way - make my life *more* difficult in certain areas?... I'm sure it does....Still, I cling to it.

BUT.... am I willing to step out from under it's "cruel and oppressive rule"?... I guess we'll see.

It's one of my goals for my retreat - "unplugged".  (God help me!) 

Help me to focus on the important, Lord... Help me to focus on You.

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