I change the station faster than I flip channels on television as I search for just that song that fits my mood. I have ten stations programmed into my car radio for my daily commute. Lady Antebellum, Lady Gaga, Rob Thomas, Chevelle are just a few that I am willing to let the knob rest on as I drive. Anything catchy will do.
But it had to stop. Interneting consumed my thoughts at work and often at home, and car time was one of the few times I was unplugged. And during car time, I couldn't bear my own thoughts: everything was boring; I just want to get home; I need a distraction from this traffic or this long red light. Radio was the solution. Like the web, it enabled me to flutter around, never lingering on one station for too long in pursuit of the opening chords of my favorite song.
The radio was allowing me to completely banish having to deal with my unentertained mind. Just like clicking on the next related article, I clicked songs that I didn't even like. I listened to songs that were meaningless or had questionable moral lessons just to get away from dealing with where I was.
Why not listen to Christian rock? Because I don't like it. Don't get me started.
Why not listen to CDs? I did, for a time. I had loftier things and things I liked much better on CD (from the Cranberries to Josh Groban and an especial liking for medieval music and chant). But I got lazy with the CD changer (my car doesn't have an iPod plug in) and never switched the CDs. The radio was my respite from laziness and boredom. Just like what TV and the internet can become.
My thoughts stopped being in complete sentences and morphed into lyrics stuck in my head: "Stop calling, stop calling. I don't wanna think anymore. I left my heart and my head on the dance floor."
The loss of coherent thoughts greatly troubled me. And then I had a realization: books are the answer. I needed to return to reading for pleasure. Books do not allow you to change the channel; they require complete focus. Books hone the memory because they require you to remember past events (or arguments) and connect them with the ones on the current page. If you read something of substance (ie not a romance novel), you will actually learn something. Or if it's literature, you will also engage in great philosophical constructs and lessons about the meaning of life. Books are quiet. They require your effort instead of just spraying rewards to the pleasure centers in your brain.
And now when I drive, I can think about the books or God or prayer.
The radio is off. We have no cable with which to watch TV. And I try to limit my time online.
The results: more meaningful thoughts, mindful days that aren't filled with mere distraction, more time, more time for God. It's not perfect, but it's a start.
But do not think I'm saying that TV, the internet or the radio are evil. All of them can be good or bad depending on how we use them. I had just gotten to a point where my use of them was greatly interfering with my spiritual life.Are there any distractions that have taken over your life? Do you think the author's solution was drastic? What do you do something in your life gotten out of hand?