Give Your Brain A Chance
There is a short story called Harrison Bergeron that I remember reading in high school. The plot is set in future America where there is total equality in every area of existence. Beautiful people must wear ugly masks, strong people must be weighed down by weights, and intelligent people must wear ear pieces that blast sounds in order to break their concentration.
This fictional story is about a system of equality imposed by a nefarious government; but the sad reality is that we are voluntarily submitting to similar methods. In my previous paragraph, do you remember what was used to reduce intelligence: ear pieces that broke concentration. My friends, we are putting those ear pieces in by our own volition.
We are people who live with phones, radio, TV, podcasts, music albums, videos clips and more at our fingertips and in our earbuds at all times. None of this is necessarily bad, but the cumulative effect is that our concentration can be broken and our mind can be engrossed almost constantly. No wonder we are a people with short attention spans. And no wonder we are a people who struggle to think deeply and wrestle through issues. I have seen a particular place on the internet devoted to “showerthoughts” which are the recorded insights people gain while taking a shower. Why is this so? Because it is one of the last places where you don’t have some electronic device grabbing your attention.
Even the whole idea of multi-tasking has basically been debunked and dismissed. One study demonstrated that multi-tasking makes us dumb as monkeys. The switching back and forth from one thing to another simply makes us do them all poorly. We need to focus and accomplish one thing at a time.
Therefore, I am pushing for the one thing you need in order to concentrate and meditate so that you can innovate. What is this thing we need? Silence. Not necessarily total silence, but enough that our mind can think, process, organize, dream, and problem-solve. The incessant buzzing and beeping and chirping of constant connectivity keeps us from doing any of that.
So what exactly am I recommending? How about you mow the lawn without listening to anything. Drive your car with the radio turned off. Go for a walk without your phone. Wash the dishes without any TV drama or commercials pulling your eyes. Do mundane tasks and keep them mundane. Let the mundane nature of them become a playground for your mind where it can work over problems, think through solutions, and pursue creativity. We have all heard of the legendary music lyrics or business model that is scribbled on the back of a napkin. That happened because someone was sitting there just thinking. They weren’t interrupted. They weren’t beeped at. They were in the world of their mind and they came up with something amazing.
Christians are called to meditate. We are to think long, hard, and deep about our lives, God’s truth, the world around us, and the world to come. We are to apply truth to our lives, figure out how to love people, and deal with the complex problems of a sinful, broken world. Of course we need good books and good podcasts and good radio shows and good conversations over text and phone. But we also need time to meditate. This is the practice of allowing our mind to turn things over and over until we grasp what something is and what we can or should do with it. We must do this with God’s Word most importantly. But there are many facets of life that need this kind of mental work. Let us rescue the mundane for the sake of the extraordinary.