I suffer from Shiny Object Syndrome, which, I will refer to as S.O.S for the rest of this article. And, in truth, I don’t suffer in the traditional sense of suffering from syndromes. Most of the time I have great fun and incredible experiences. However, I also spin in endless circles professionally, which can feel excruciatingly unfulfilling at times. S.O.S can also make decision-making so much harder than necessary.
If you don’t have this affliction/superpower then I’ll break it down for you like this: S.O.S occurs in people who are drawn to many peopleplacesthingsthoughts and experiences, simultaneously and serially.
We are always attracted to or ‘into’ something new and different. You might be in awe of your S.O.S friend because she seems game for anything and her month might look something like this: samba lessons Friday nights; shooting practice -bow and arrow this week- firearms two weeks out; Hebrew language lessons Tuesdays and Thursdays; rowing practice for four weeks starting Wednesdays; volunteer work at the VA; a Spring Fling pastry tasting; Excel spreadsheet training; a meditation retreat thrown in for good measure; her ongoing apprentice training in saltwater taffy making… and there’s her career and family and social life in there somewhere too.
We have many interests and perhaps even the skill and talent to successfully wear a wide variety of hats. We’re fantastic referral sources because we have tried so many programs; restaurants; churches – you name it and there’s an S.O lover who’s tried it on.
We’re bursting with ideas too and we’ve even put a lot of them into action at one time or another. Sometimes all at once, and being with us can feel like a confetti parade (great fun) till its time to clean up the chaos.
In this way we are Spring embodied. All, unpredictable weather, life prying itself out the of the depths of winter in a riot of color and texture and sound. Copious coupling with whatever beautiful possibility inspires us.
We’re geared towards newness and initiation and tremendous bursts of energy.
But, sometimes, to make the kind of impact we are inspired to make, we have to learn to cultivate the energy of perseverance, the discipline of order and the stability of structure.
I didn’t love the word discipline as a kid. It was at odds with my desire for freedom. But, I do love language and root meanings, and I learned, that in the root of discipline, is the Greek word paideias which means “to instruct”.
There is also, the word disciple, as in follower or student, as in student of something we love.
And, I can run miles with that understanding of the practice of discipline.
This week in my meditation practice I finally understood my own unwillingness to focus, as an obstacle, to the deeper richness I want experience in life.
Ironic right? Meditation is, among many things, a discipline of focused attention. It is the ultimate shiny object, in that it is a forever changing process.
The world would have us spinning in any number of directions, or none at all, to keep us distracted from the depth and meaning of our lives.
Your shiny objects may be text messages, Face Book posts, Hulu Plus, relationships, books, coffee, yoga swag, Crossfit swag, degrees, promotions, CEU’s, the kids’ extra curics. S.O’s could also be emotions like envy, resentment, anger, apathy and boredom.
On the flip side, are the shiny objects that do move our lives forward and deepen our relationships but, are dropped before they can take root and grow substance.
My intention for my meditation practice this week was to maintain my focus as applied to the experiences I want to cultivate in my life going forward.
My invitation to you is the same.
What shiny objects have you been chasing that are more distraction than enhancement?
What shiny object have you dropped -Velveteen Rabbit style- that would be a blessing to you and yours if you re-engaged it with the tender devotion of a disciple?
If you feel called, please share a story with us here. Your visibility may inspire someone else.