Avoid Distraction


I find it hard to resist temptation. So I don’t.

Rather than resist it, I try to avoid it completely. It’s hard to resist a bag of chips that are staring at you from across the room, but it’s easy if you didn’t buy any in the first place.

I think the same way about work. I can’t resist checking my phone or reading random websites, and since I’m too far gone, turning off my phone and computer isn’t enough.

I need less.

So I take the SIM card out of my iPad. I pack it and my wallet and keys into my backpack, and I go to the BART station.

For the next 4-12 hours, I ride around the BART without getting off. And on that old train is where I feel the most alive.

The BART’s deficiencies become its perfection. There’s no WiFi. Passengers don’t like to talk to each other. The train is slow and you can ride without getting off for hours. The view out the window has gotten old. It’s hard to sleep on it.

So what else can I do on it but work on hard problems?

It’s a lot easier to push through the initial resistance of doing something hard when you have nothing else to do.

And by keeping at it, I learn to crave that feeling of meaning. Even being near the BART station makes me breathe faster, as I remember all the things I’ve done on the train. I run towards it, and I feel physically lighter the closer I get to it.

I learn to crave the feeling of learning hard things. Things that I didn’t know before. Things that scared me. I learn to let that which does not matter truly slide.

As life becomes more distracting, you’re forced to adopt stranger and stranger ways of coping. But, really, this one is just me. I’ll be the only person to mourn when I see Wi-Fi bars in those green seats.

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