The Art of Distraction

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“Come closer, I want to show you something,” my hands are cupped and I’m leaning down towards a gaggle of unruly grandkids. They gather around, excited, pointing, reaching towards my hands.

“What is in there Grammie?”

“I want to see.”

“Show us.”

I make a big show of it, moving slowly, building the anticipation with words like, “Are you ready?” “Don’t get too close.” “Hush now, you don’t want to scare it.”

See, when we move toward the unknown with excitement and expectancy we are trusting in our intuition, we have an innate desire to understand, to see things that are hidden, because the truth is we grow through our curiosity says Jack Kornfield. When we listen, when we lean in, we are expressing a desire to understand.

I’ve always used distraction with my youngins to shift their focus especially when they are angry or upset. If you’ve ever seen a three-year-old throw a full-throttle tantrum then you know what I mean. If they get agitated when reacting to some sort of unexpected experience I try and distract because you can’t hold anger and curiosity in your mind at the same time. Go ahead, try it, I’ll wait.

As my hands part, the highly anticipated secret is finally revealed, it’s a ladybug. Small, red, dotted, moving across the deep creases of my barren hand.

“Oh, what is that Grammie.”

“A ladybug.”

“She’s cute.”

I tell them that when a ladybug lands on you it’s a sign of good luck. “Look how lucky we are today.”

“I want some luck.”

“Can I hold her.”

“Grammie, it tickles.”

When we’re living in the moment, we yield to our curiosity, but we also relinquish control. Rose Zonetti says when we are delivered into the unknown through attunement and inquiry, we simply arrive at courage. I love that.

Did you know that the word ladybug has an interesting origin? According to word history, “the bug part of the word ladybug is transparent enough: ladybugs are beetles, which, with weevils, make up the largest order of insects, Coleoptera. The lady part, however, is not so transparent. It has its origin in an allusion to a very particular and much-revered lady, her name is Mary, the mother of Jesus.”

When a ladybug lands on you it’s considered good luck, good fortune, that powerful changes are about to occur in your life. I’m a little traumatized by all the powerful changes occurring in my life, but hey, we could all use a little luck.

With the current protests happening all around the world I have to consider the things I harbor in my own hands, am I keeping lady luck captive, when all she wants is to fly away home? Eric Alan says this virus has not only brought an illness, but it has also brought to light other illnesses of society.

Let’s open this up, let’s get uncomfortable, show our fear, our ignorance, our courage to take an honest look at the privileges we’ve been holding for far too long.

See there are things I don’t know, what I don’t know, I don’t know, like what it’s like to be left-handed. I live with a lefty and I gave birth to a lefty so I have some knowledge of these types of people. As Miles Mcpherson explains just about everything in the world is made for right-handed people, if you’re left-handed you have to deal with not only right-handed scissors, and tools, but water fountains, golf clubs, catcher mitts, school desks, soap dispensers, even handshakes are designed for right-handed people. You have what McPherson calls right privilege, because you don’t know you have all these advantages, you were just born that way.

Could I get a snap for that?

Okay, I’m leaping here, try and stay with me. A couple thousand years ago some schmuck (probably a lefty) wanted to get into heaven so he asks Jesus if he could whittle down the laws to the most important one. Jesus had a handle on this one, being God and all he combined his two favorites (we call this divine privilege), he said to love God and your neighbor as yourself, and then he added everything hangs on this commandment.

What the hell? Everything? Here again, I don’t know, what I don’t know, I don’t know.

Now Jesus didn’t want to confuse anyone about who exactly is your neighbor, so he told a nifty parable about an injured man left to die on the side of the road. After a Priest and Levite walk right past the beaten and bleeding man, a Samaritan dude stops to help, not just any man, but the injured man’s arch enemy.

See how Jesus shifts the question from “what will happen to me if I stop and help this stranger,” to “what will happen to this stranger if I do not stop and help?” Your neighbor is anyone you encounter on the road of life, especially those who have been harmed, or are in need of your assistance.

Jesus was truly on to something here, because nothing is as counter-cultural to our human nature than loving the unknown, especially if we are afraid. Maybe wisdom is simply the ability to care for others as fiercely as we care for those we love?

So maybe we start by paying attention to the small things, we stay curious, we listen to each other’s stories.  If I tell you about my life, what I struggle with, what I love to do, will you tell me what’s it’s like to be you? When we listen, when we lean in, we are expressing a desire to understand.

Our curiosity is peaked and this is how we learn, this is how we arrive at a more honest conversation, because if you can’t talk about something you can’t really think about it either, says Eula Biss.

“Come closer, I want to show you something,” my hands are cupped, I’m holding on to the belief that we can harness our curiosity to bring about real change in a world reeling in fear, frustration, and pain. Be open, lean in, look closely.

I’m Living in the Gap, looking for ladybugs, then following them home.

14 Comments

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    1. Thank you Lauren, I have always had a thing for ladybugs, and they’ve been all over us lately! The grandkids are smitten and that’s when I noticed how curiosity is such an advocate for change. Thanks for your comment, love that “messengers of hope.” C

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Well, back in April, I blogged from A-Z on topics of gratitude, and I’m noticing that in June my mind has slipped down a slippery slope. Gratitude is always good for my soul, but I need an intentional practice. Maybe not a daily blog. Maybe a journal. Maybe just some quiet time to focus on something good. You know, just a distraction, like the ladybug.

        Liked by 3 people

  1. Cheryl this is beautiful. I think a lot lately about the COVID situation and how it’s become so much more than the illness. As you said, it’s brought clearly into the light just how much we have perhaps brushed under the rug or, simply, did not learn enough about so that we might do something better. Always glad to read you, friend. ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Lisa, thank you so much, and as Maya Angelou says, “when we know better, we do better.” That is my hope. Moving towards a place of understanding is always good, because we don’t know, what we don’t know! Thanks for the lovely comment, be well, stay safe, C

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  2. Hi Cheryl!
    These are definitely the times that try one’s soul. I continue to look to your blog as a source of joy and uplifting thoughtfulness. It is always good to continually reassess how myopic one’s own (mine) perspective is. I need make an extra effort to see how life is from another’s point of view. Assume nothing.

    When trying to improve societal relationships, remember to not accept anything that is not based on love. People need to be lifted up, not put down.
    To quote A H Milne, “The things that make me different are the things that make me.”
    I am not ready to give up on this country, which though flawed, I believe is the greatest the world has ever seen (once again my own myopic point of view.) Founded in 1776, it was reborn during the civil war, when Julia Ward Howe wrote: “In the beauty of the lilies, Christ was born across the sea
    With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me
    As He died to make men holy, let us live to make men free
    While God is marching on.”

    As an aside, get that Ladybug back in your garden. It is an aphid eating machine!
    Lastly, I appreciate how you tackle these difficult times.
    Not everyone is so successful.
    Please be careful. Some thoughts that were recently acceptable are now reviled.
    So, to quote Joshua from Wargames, “A strange game. The only winning move is not to play. How about a nice game of chess?”
    I am so looking forward to the end of this pandemic so we can visit and I can pick Larry’s brain about life over a couple of really good bottles of something.
    Not sure why your post and these times make me think of this song, but it is inspirational and spiritual none-the-less.

    “The Rising” was written as a response to the terrorist attacks in the USA on the 11th September 2001. The song tells a story of a firefighter climbing up the staircase at the World Trade Center.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. As always, it’s a joy to see your thoughts appear in the comments, Mike. It helps to know you are out there, tackling the same topics, shining a light where I seem to be stumbling in the darkness. As you may have noticed my last few blogs I have struggled to publish on time. I wrestled with the idea of broaching the subject, the elephant in the room, as if wrestling with the devil. I wanted to explore, confront, and learn about all the things “I don’t know, I don’t know,” but I also didn’t want to offend or attach blame to a very complicated issue. I realize this is akin to walking on thin ice and I was scared for good reason. I kept telling myself to be brave, open this up, all the while fearing the truth.

      So your words are especially comforting to me when you say “assume nothing,” when trying to see life from another point of view. I also really like your thoughts about societal relationships being based on love. Spot on.

      I too believe this is the greatest country the world has ever seen but there is always room for improvement. We are strong enough to pull out of this and be better for it. And yes, I heed your advice to be careful, as Micah shows us how to be good, “to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

      Larry and I can’t wait for the day we can join you and Gail, open some nice wine, and shoot the shit. Miss you guys so very much, Cheryl,

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you Geri! I so appreciate you joining me in the comments! Grandchildren create a lot of material for bloggers! They’re gold. And thanks for following Living in the Gap, I followed you back! Looking forward to your posts! C

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