Resisting the things I know I should isn’t something I seem to excel at

I think when you hit a certain age you’ve pretty much figured out which things are good for you and which ones just aren’t.  For instance, at some point you realize that two-thirds of a package of Fudge Stripes followed by half a bag of Doritos and a liter of Coke is not a good idea (take my word on it).  You know you’ll pay at work the next day for staying up late to watch the end of “The Shawshank Redemption” even though you’ve seen it so many times you can almost recite the dialogue, but it’s “Shawshank,” you know?  You know the outcome and consequences of these things like you know the ramifications of building that dirty dish sculpture in the sink while your spouse is out of town.  There will be welded mac and cheese to scrape off and white Tupperware that will just have to be thrown out because, well, spaghetti sauce.  Still, you just can’t seem to help yourself, can you?  Why do we do the things we know we shouldn’t and not do the things we should?

That’s an easy one.  We’re weak.  We can’t resist the Fudge/Dorito/Coke combo.  We love the movie and the dream of living on the beach (Sorry, spoiler alert.  Like you haven’t seen it a million times)  We just can’t summon the “umph!” to move ourselves to do the things we know we have to until the very last moment when  we really have to like right before she walks in the door.  We just can’t.

The good thing is these things probably won’t kill us, at least not right away.  Still, diabetes is a heck of a thing.  Lack of sleep has been shown to shorten your lifespan.  And my spouse might out-and-out kill me if she comes home early (that’s “might” though).  None of these is probably the clear, present danger however of not watching what you’re doing when you’re driving down the road.  Turns out I’m guilty of that too and let’s just get it out of the way right now; I know better.

I know that my old eyes that haven’t seen 20/20 since before I was four years old don’t refocus very well going from traffic to text.  I can’t read the small screen on my iPhone and then glance back to the road and other cars and see either one worth a darn.  I’m well aware that trying to read an email or something on Facebook means I’m essentially driving blind even if I’m looking at the road.  I blame my inability to resist, just like the cookies and chips, the ding of a text or the “galunk” of an email on a myriad of weaknesses.  Maybe it has something to do with my need for attention or my need to feel wanted.  Or maybe it’s that stupid thing called Dopamine that the psychologists say we get when we hear these things or see the screen light up.  I seem to be powerless to these alluring sirens and their promise of titillation as I navigate another mundane commute.  You’d think I’d have enough distraction trying to dial up my favorite Pandora or Spotify jam but even that leaves me flat.  It’s sad commentary on the state of my psyche that I crave stimulation like an addict chases the next hit.  Believe me I’ve asked myself many times, what’s wrong?

What’s wrong with a little peace and quiet?  What’s wrong with a little serenity unplugged from a screen?  I sit in front of one for nine hours a day at work, the glow certainly weakening those already-weak eyes, and still I yearn to have the light in front of me on a smaller scale even longer.  Why am I captivated by moving pictures, flashing lights (hopefully not in my rearview mirror) and silly sounds at all times of the day and night?  I lament stress and burnout and our 24/7 culture and then I choose it on my own when no one is watching.  How cracked am I?  Well, I’ll tell you.

I’m broken enough on this Thursday, finally, to say “No more!”  I know I have to be reachable by telephone for work at all times but apart from that, I’m quitting doing anything else with my cell phone when I’m in the car.  Depending on your personality and perspective you may say ‘Big deal’ or ‘How are going to deal?’ and to be honest, I don’t know.  I just know it’s time because I’m tired.  I need a rest.  I need my commute to be unfettered by chasing things or keeping up or trying to get ahead.  I need that time in my pickup to be free of the little charging tyrant on the console.  I may shut him down to be used only for incoming calls.  I may turn him loose on a single channel not to be fooled with while I’m in motion.   But the one thing I will definitely do is choose to resist the urge to extract satisfaction or happiness or self-worth or anything else out of him while I drive.  He’s good and I like him but we need boundaries and he needs to back off.

I’m going to make a not-so-bold statement and guess you have the same temptations I do when you drive.  I hope you’ve conquered them or have some tips you might like to share below.  But if you’re like me and you need to draw a line in the sand I hope this encourages you and that you might share this with someone whose safety you care about.

Every week I write about all sorts of life stuff, some religiousy stuff and a little goofy stuff.  If you would like to read more click here to go to my blog’s home page.  I hope you like what you read and you’ll subscribe for free by clicking this.  You can also subscribe at the blog. Subscribing just means you’ll receive an email on Saturdays with links to the week’s posts, nothing else.  I never sell or share emails so you won’t get a bunch of junk.