Every magician knows that the secret to any magic trick-from pulling a rabbit out of a hat to making a coin disappear-is really quite simple: distraction. All the magician has to do is focus our attention on something that seems important but is really unrelated-the waving of a wand or a flurry of fingers. Meanwhile, the trick is taking place on the side, and we don’t even notice it.
This kind of sleight of hand is entertaining, but unfortunately today’s world is full of similar tricks with more serious consequences. Despite our best intentions to accomplish worthy goals, we get distracted or even deceived and expend our energy on less important pursuits.
So many things cry out for our attention. The world tells us that money and fame, power and prestige are what count in life, and so our careers and ambitions might distract us from family and friends. Society seems at times to reward the dishonest and immoral, and so we may be tempted to compromise our core values.
If screens and cell phones keep us from looking into the eyes of our loved ones, we have been distracted. If ball games, tee times, and workouts keep us from spending time with the people who matter most, we have been distracted. If shopping sprees and the latest fashions keep us from seeing into someone’s heart, we have been distracted. Deceptions and misdirections come in many forms, but they all have one thing in common: they threaten to confuse our ideals and put at risk that which we hold most dear.
Don’t be fooled by the tugs and pulls and flashy tricks of the world. We are less likely to be distracted if we are wise and attentive and put first things first. Some things simply stand the test of time and deserve our best energy and effort-and others don’t. If we will judge our activities against the standard of our highest aspirations and noblest purposes, we will accomplish our most important goals, and we will recognize life’s tricks for the distractions that they are.