Had one of those moments this week. Jo called to inform me our youngest daughter was ill and running a fever. Someone needed to pick her up; I’d be the one. I left my meeting with the thoughts of the dialogue whirling in my head. I didn’t even turn on the radio as I pulled out of the parking lot. On autopilot, I made my way to 146 and headed north for a few miles ultimately heading west onto Massey Tompkins. I turned in the entrance of Austin Elementary. Finding an empty parking space, I parked and made my way to the office. Standing at the Reception Desk I handed over my license and stated I was there to pick up my daughter. It was then that my level of consciousness met my reality. I looked at the receptionist and she looked at me – we were both thinking the same thing. My daughter didn’t go to that school anymore. I’d spend 10 minutes driving to the wrong school in search of a sick child. I was now laughing, as was receptionist, except mine was out of the necessity to cover my embarrassment. I graciously retrieved my license and apologized once again as I scratched my name from the sign-out list – hoping to remove any evidence of this event.
In case you’re wondering, I finally made it the Gentry Junior School to rescue my daughter. She had the flu, but is well now and back in school – at Gentry and not Austin. But, here is where the plot thickens, I’m known for forgetting kids at church, too (every so often, but not lately). It’s not all too uncommon that I’ll travel between campuses only to leave a child at North while on my way to Sterling on Sunday morning. It’s so easy to get preoccupied (the message, drive, and schedule), that you forget the essential and very important – like my son.
Why do I tell you this story? Not to embarrass myself, but to illustrate life. See, sometimes we can get so preoccupied, we zone out our surroundings and ultimately our reality. We’re in the present, but absent from reality due to preoccupation. By running on autopilot, I missed my cues. I’ve made that drive so many times, I could have done it with my eyes closed – a little exaggeration. I’ve thought about this a lot over the last several days. How many times do I do life on autopilot? How many times am I so busy in my preoccupation that I miss the opportunities and the scenery around me? It’s easy to get preoccupied and subsequently fall back into a familiar “route.” I really don’t want to miss anything that God has for me – the important stuff.
I think preoccupation is a symptom of a more heinous disease (workaholism) for most. We’re at work even when we’re not at work. I know there are times for work, times for rest, and times for play. That goes with the mind, too. Preoccupation can consume the mind, making no room for rest, play, and other important stuff. We miss important conversations with our spouse, family, and memorable moments, too. Preoccupation comes at a great cost. Here’s to an attempt to turn off the preoccupying thoughts and to pay attention to the now.