Sunday, November 13, 2011

Texting While Driving–A Distraction Story

A while ago a friend of mine told me a story he heard during a presentation. It was about how a young girl was texting and driving and ended up getting into a car accident that killed a family and community friend. She felt ashamed, sorrow and great guilt for what she had done. The family of the man who was killed took compassion on this young girl and asked the judge to be lenient. The judge was and gave the young woman a light sentence as per the victim’s family’s plea. It was an accident.

However, this young girl, unchanged from the original experience, once again was texting and driving and once again got into an accident that killed another individual … almost identical to the first situation. This time the consequences were not so forgiving. The judge was not lenient and the sentencing was for the full amount of time required for the crime.

When the story was told it was more of an instruction to the younger members of the audience about the perils of texting and driving. But something has been nagging at me since I heard the story and I’m not sure the dangers of texting and driving are the only lessons we should learn from this tale. As I have driven these past months another thought kept coming into my mind.

I think the problem isn’t with texting and driving, but distraction while doing something important. All too often we lose site of events that are common place in our lives. Driving, for instance, is about going from one location to another. usually the mode of transportation is a large 2000+ pound vehicle that moves at killer speeds even when slow. Getting behind the wheel of such a machine deserves respect and reverence. But we don’t care about that. It’s a device that is a part of our life. It isn’t something worth respecting and it certainly isn’t something of importance we need to mind.

So the mass of people get behind the wheel and move from point a to point b without thinking that today is the day I could hit something or someone, ignite into a ball of flame, have shards of glass tear through our delicate skin, get mangled by pieces of metal, or a dozen other damaging events that could occur. We drive moving from one lane into another without looking in our rear view mirrors; speed through red lights without stopping; and drive faster than posted speed limits because point b is so important to get to. We forget (or worse we don’t forget) that we are in a machine that deserves respect for the pure awe of it’s existence. We forget the importance of how dangerous this blessing of modern technology truly is.

So we distract ourselves. We talk on the phone; We text people what we are thinking; We prepare for our arrivals at point b. And in doing so we abandon the importance of presence. We take our eyes off the road ahead and lose sight of where we are going. And in that instant the world changes without our knowledge and we succumb to the consequences of that change. A car swerves into our lane; Our vehicle turns too sharply one direction; A person walks out in front of us.

I can’t help but think about this distraction in another light. What important directions in your life were you headed that have been altered? Was it because the change was required or did the change occur because you got distracted?

We all have a direction in life that is an “ethereal point b.” Some believe it is a heavenly eternity others the joining of energy to the cosmos. The question which needs to be answered then is not “What is the meaning of life?” but rather “How well am I progressing towards my ‘ethereal point b’?” If your goal is to be a good person and you live in a world of frustration then what needs to be accomplished to remove the frustration? If you are trying to return to a sacred state and you live in a revolving life of profane then what can you do to change? If you are searching for meaningful relationships with people and you are not a meaningful individual how can you start living a life of worth?

Our “ethereal point b” is important, and we need to stop getting distracted from that path. Put down the cell phones, televisions and other distractions. Pay attention to the road ahead of you. At times it may be long and monotonous. Other times it may be frustrating. It is in times of great struggle that it is most important to stay focused. Diligence during these times will always yield positive results and get you to your destination safely. Most importantly as you travel towards your “ethereal point b” you will appreciate the actual journey itself for what it was: an opportunity for progress.

It may seem like a stretch to leap to life’s progression from texting while driving, but I assure you it is not that far off. The power of the automobile and the power of your potential are very similar. Both can take you to places you’ve never imagined. Both need direction to get to point b. And both are easily distracted by the individual operators. Remember: It wasn’t the texting while driving that was the error, but the being distracted while doing something important. Your life is important. Your potential is important. Your “ethereal point b” is important. The distractions are there, but it is you who makes the choice to pay attention to them. Choose wisely, because the consequences may never be lenient.

Happy Journeys and Travel Safely!

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