Have We Lost Our Deep, Sustained Focus?

by Mark Votava


It seems that I live in a world of distractions.  I go through my life completely unaware of what is happening within me and around me.  Closing myself off to the world is detrimental to my state of being and yet a lot of the structures I find myself in are pulling me that way.  I am overcome with numbing my pain to find pleasure in what is not authentic in me.

The injustice of systems around me make me feel trapped and afraid to find liberation from it all.  Is there any hope or is my state of anxiety the only reality there is?  So many times I feel the pain of all of this and I am struggling to experience any sense of peace.

The question I constantly live in is: What is real in life and what is distraction?  Most of the time I don’t really know.  But I am hoping that I can find something authentic in the years to come.

  •  Nothing will ever happen with chance

We cannot live our lives together distracted and with escape mechanisms any longer.  We cannot be the body of Christ together in everyday life if we are distracted and leave everything up to chance.  Nothing will ever happen with chance.  Chance is an illusion of our own making.

  •  Looking pretty normal

Debbie Blue writes, “I sometimes think it’s just amazing we don’t go really way crazier living within the fabrications that structure our world.  And how does all that false structure ever manage to contain the chaos that it so misrepresents?  Or maybe we’re really already just so crazy we don’t ever notice it anymore.  We see but we don’t perceive, hear but don’t understand (and all that).  We just turn right, turn left, stop, go, wear this, eat here, watch that and we’re really all insane, blind to some truth or some chaos swirling all around us.  But we look pretty normal.”

  •  Escapism, untruthfulness, dishonesty and distraction

God has given us agency as human beings to be in communion with one another and creation.  It is about time we stop escaping reality and start living into something that represents a holistic counterculture.  The body of Christ needs to be based on something that is truthful, authentic and relevant.  There is no good news in the “real world” of our illusions.  It is based on escapism, untruthfulness, dishonesty and distraction.

  •  A place of awareness

The mystical imagination will put us in a place of awareness where we wake up to what is authentic and begin to experience liberation.  This will not happen by chance.  The Spirit is wanting our collaboration with the mystical imagination as God is leading us to becoming alive in everyday life together.

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened” (Matthew 6:7). 

  •  An undistracted life of discipline

If we seek the mystical imagination within us we will find life.  The door will be opened to live an undistracted life of discipline if we truly want it.  We will receive the strength for healing our patterns of escapism if we seek it out.  We will start to understand the mystical imagination within us if we desire it.

  •  Finding something more interdependent

We are the only ones who are keeping us from all of this.  We need to allow our desires to be shaped by the longings within us.  The mystical imagination of embracing the real will not be denied to anyone who is seeking it out.  When we seek Christ in this way a whole paradigm will be opened up that leaves our individualistic ways to find something more interdependent in our local community.

  •  Losing our capacity for deep, sustained focus

Maggie Jackson writes, “Yet increasingly, we are shaped by distraction…  The seduction of alternative virtual universes, the addictive allure of multitasking people and things, our near-religious allegiance to a constant state of motion: these are markers of a land of distraction, in which our old conceptions of space, time, and place have been shattered.  This is why we are less and less able to see, hear, and comprehend what’s relevant and permanent, why so many of us feel that we can barely keep our heads above water, and our days are marked by perpetual loose ends.  What’s more, the waning of our powers of attention is occurring at such a rate and in so many areas of life, that the erosion is reaching critical mass.  We are on the verge of losing our capacity as a society for deep, sustained focus…”

  •  Distractions are the norm

For some reason we think that there is life in our distractions.  Distractions are the American way.  Distractions are the norm.  Distractions are predictable.

  •  Distractions always lead to illusions

Distractions are controlled.  We love to escape our lives and responsibilities to one another for the thrill of distractions.  Distractions, we think, are the ultimate path to our “happiness.”  But the truth is that distractions always lead us to illusion.

What causes you to be distracted in life?