Over the past few years, the frequent break and detour have become my signature move... so much so that Melbo has fondly taken to calling me "Captain Distracto." Unfortunately, that sort of routine doesn't really jive with what's expected of me these days. At least not if I want ever want to see my son or enjoy a home-cooked meal with the family.
So I resolved to change my ways. The resolving was easy. It's the change that's been hard. A creature of habit with a law degree is prone to revert to familiar ways. We're taught to be persuasive... and persuasive we are. I can hardly say no to myself, and it's hard to feel bad after I eventually cave in because of who I was up against. Me. I can rationalize with the best of them.
And so it happens that I meander over to a nearby office just "for a second" and end up rehashing the weekend in sports for thirty minutes. I get online "just to check an email" and get off having responded to three while also having skimmed the front page of the Washington Post, New York Times, Deseret News, and the Drudge Report. I convince myself that a particular bill has to be paid "right now" or that I need to call and consolidate my private student loans "before I forget." And on and on. The end result is often me getting home later than I had hoped and bringing home more work than I otherwise would have to (errr... don't tell the wife).
Sadly, this cycle doesn't end at work. By the time I get home, I'm often so worn out that all I feel like doing is vegging' out with Melbo in front of the tube. We end up watching a lot of crap instead of things we always talk about doing (e.g., writing in our journals, working on our photo albums, knocking out a few more books on our reading lists, or saving the world).
Seeing me flailing about, pathetically trying to steady myself, God had mercy and told Dallin H. Oaks I needed some counsel. Several millions of people may have been listening to General Conference last weekend, but it's clear that Oaks intended his remarks for me personally. Maybe it's because, as a former lawyer himself, he understands my struggle, but he didn't characterize my distractions as bad; instead, he merely suggested that they weren't the best use of my time. He said:
We should begin by recognizing the reality that just because something is good is not a sufficient reason for doing it. The number of good things we can do far exceeds the time available to accomplish them. Some things are better than good, and these are the things that should command priority attention in our lives...
As we consider various choices, we should remember that it is not enough that something is good. Other choices are better, and still others are best. Even though a particular choice [may be] more costly, its far greater value may make it the best choice of all.At some level, I already knew all this. But hearing it struck a chord. I've resigned myself to the fact that balance is likely to be a life-long struggle for me, but Oaks gave me hope. While I'm not convinced an animal like myself can easily change overnight, I'm optimistic that, with time, I can at least learn to chose the better, if not the best. Tough questions still loom, however, like whether this blog rises to the level of a good or a better ('Cause there's no way in hell it's a best).
Consider how we use our time in the choices we make in viewing television, playing video games, surfing the Internet, or reading books or magazines. Of course it is good to view wholesome entertainment or to obtain interesting information. But not everything of that sort is worth the portion of our life we give to obtain it. Some things are better, and others are best. When the Lord told us to seek learning, He said, "Seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom" (D&C 88:118; emphasis added).