CBS' Sunday Morning had an editorial segment on the pitfalls of multi-tasking; scientific information that it has altered the human brain, requiring (my interpretation) more and greater distraction and stimulation of busy nothingness. For one who, in my best moments, may be said to task this is not breaking news.
Driving and talking on the phone seems like folly on four wheels. I used to work with my color pencils as I talked on the house phone; I no longer do that, for both activities got too little of me. I am unable to turn away from a heating pan to find something in the drawer without the pan's contents boiling over. I can watch clouds - or just the sky, bare of ornament - for lengths of time that make me blush. I have evolved into the champion of my childhood picture book, Ferdinand the Bull. My wish is to smell the flowers, in a literal or figurative sense, and keep the agenda as simple as possible.
The first odious thing about multi-tasking is the phrase. Is it so difficult to say, "I'm having to do several things at once"? It feels like a robot language; we've programmed the glombot to multi-task...could it be one of the aps? Yes, I have a cell phone. Our house may have been the last in California to relinquish its analog models...we couldn't even get a signal in our carport. We talk, we text, and I (can't speak for anyone else) type out my complete words on the phone keypad, paying attention and sometimes hitting the wrong key, sending a message before its time and receiving "???????????????" in response.
Doing something which requires time also deserves attention, whether it is my first choice of activity or not. When our task is one which fulfills us, why would we want to diminish the pleasure by doing something less appealing at the same moment? My suspicion that we are on the brink of irreversible overload makes me protective of what cells or neuropathways or functions remain. What stresses the mind also stresses the body, which should be reason enough to reconsider.
We have been fed a lot of baloney in our lives. Multi-tasking is not a virtue; it is a way of cheapening, dulling and diluting our experiences. Please, sit down and watch the movie, do the crossword, listen to the friend who has called, or call back when you can be present. Stop what you're doing when someone comes home at the end of the day and wants your attention.
When resources are diminished, it may be all that we are able to give is our time. That may be what is needed most. One thing at a time, whether for ourselves or another. One thing at a time.