FEEL GOOD FRIDAY: Distracted Driving…

by Dave Markwell

Recently adding a teenage driver to my household, I have become increasingly aware of “distracted driving”. It has been VERY clearly expressed to my son that ANY whiff of him texting, calling or fiddling with his phone while driving will result in very bad things for him. It was one of those conversations that left him feeling like he got in trouble before he even did anything wrong. I pray that it worked.

I hate seeing people on their phones while driving. Independent of the risk they possess to the rest of us, their driving just sucks. They don’t pay attention and go too slow or too fast and don’t signal well and have to stop too quickly or hesitate while traveling through a green light. With head down, minus the quick glance up, it is obvious and maddening that folks seem to care so much about usually unimportant messages. It’s frustrating, as well as dangerous.

Well, as I am prone to do, I drew a connection between “distracted driving” and “distracted living”. This is dangerous, too. When we take our eyes off our route of travel, we wind up in unplanned and sometimes unpleasant destinations. It is easy to fill our days with other people’s lives. People ask us for many things and, if we choose, we can spend our life living someone else’s.

The encouraging word here is “choose”. We can choose; answering a text while driving is a CHOICE; saying “yes” to someone’s ask is also a CHOICE. Both are ripe with implications and can ensure us a safe journey or they can send us into the ditch. It’s our choice.

In a different column, I wrote about “subtraction by addition”. This is a similar theme. By complicating our lives with other people’s business, we take our eyes off of our road. By “adding” duties that aren’t ours, we diminish the energy and time we have to spend working on things we value. It is easy to become slaves to the word “yes” and have nothing left for ourselves.

Now, I support and do my fair share of helping others out, but it’s important to understand when it’s important to do so and to recognize to cost of doing it. Only valuable “yes’s” should be considered.

A friend recently recommended a book to me: Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown. In perusing the book details on Amazon, a powerful idea left the page and entered my spirit: “Discern the vital few from the trivial many”. “Yo!! Those are some great words!!” I thought.

Simple and true, these words reminded me that much of life is trivial and many things we spend time thinking, worrying about or occupying our lives with lack meaningful value. The other side of this idea is that a few things are vital. These are the good ones. These are things that we need to keep our eyes on. These lead us where we want to go.

Our families and friends are worth keeping our eyes on. The things that make us feel good in our health and personal development are worth paying attention to. Trivial distractions are not. The key is knowing the difference…and we all know the difference when we have our heads up and eyes on our road…

[EDITOR’S NOTE:”Feel Good Friday” is a regular column written by Des Moines resident Dave Markwell, whose first book is called “A Feel Good Life” (buy it on Amazon here). Dave also extols to all neighbors: “Enjoy where we live. Put your feet on the pavement and truly feel how great it is to live here!” Also, you can “friend” Dave on Facebook here. Or work out with him at his exercise company Waterland CrossFit!]

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