How much of your life do you spend in a state of distraction? How much does being distracted affect your interaction with others?
I recently attended a book signing. I bought a book by the author (who shall remain nameless), and I stood in line to have the book signed. When my turn came, the author was speaking to another person. I waited for the author to finish the conversation, but that didn’t happen. Instead, the author held out a hand for my book. I put my book into the author’s hand. The author signed the book and handed it back to me, all the while still talking to the other person. The author never even looked at me.
I walked away from the table flummoxed and thought, Who does that? Then I got mad and thought, I’m never buying one of [the author’s] books again! And then I sighed and thought, There’s a lesson to be learned here.
I don’t think the author was intentionally being dismissive and rude. I think the author was performing a familiar task (signing books) and was distracted. Which is understandable. We live in a distracting world. I mean, I’m not one to judge here. I loathe to think how many times I’ve neglected to pay attention when my husband or kids are speaking to me, telling me things that are important to them, things I’m too busy checking my email to hear. We’re all guilty of such offenses. I’m not saying what the author did was okay, but I am saying I can understand how and why it happened.
But…it shouldn’t happen.
Is being distracted avoidable? It must be. There was a time before we had screens always-on in our faces and noise coming at us from every direction. It’s avoidable if we stay conscious of the present moment.
As awkward and disappointing the book signing situation was, I’m thankful for the lesson it taught me.
That signing was a reminder to pay attention. To be present. To be aware of what I’m doing and who I’m engaging with. Whether it’s my family, my friends or readers who buy my books, they deserve my respect and they deserve my attention.
I don’t want to be the person too distracted to appreciate the people around me, and thereby miss out on a huge part of living life.