Be Here Now

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Every night, while the bath is filling, I play fetch with my dog, Henry. All I need do is start the water, and no matter where Henry is, he comes running.

One night, I decided to multitask. I had Words With Friends, a scrabble-like game on my iPhone, going with two or three different players. I started the bath. Henry came running. Then, iPhone in one hand, ball in the other, I positioned myself at the top of the stairs. I tossed the ball and as Henry took off, I quickly clicked on a game. Studying the small screen intently, I didn’t bother to keep up my usual banter with Henry. Hey, I was playing fetch. Wasn’t that enough?

Apparently not.

Henry returned once, twice, three times… but each time a bit slower, until finally he just stopped and stared at me.

I have to admit; this wasn’t the first time I’d tried to multitask during our nightly game of fetch. And, it wasn’t the first time he’d reacted like this. However, it was the first time I realized Henry was trying to tell me something. He wasn’t having any fun. It wasn’t running after the ball that was important to him, it was those few minutes—the time it took to fill the bath—that he had me all to himself. I needed to Be Here Now for him.

I put aside my phone and played ball.

Are we trying to juggle too much?

Society has led us to believe that multitasking is efficient. The truth is, it usually isn’t. The few seconds I had while Henry chased after the ball, were not nearly enough to think of a word, type in the letters and click send. Henry was back before I’d even figured out what letters I had to play with…never mind all the options for playing them. In the end, neither game benefited. And sadly, a relationship suffered.

How many other relationships and tasks have I shortchanged by trying to multitask? How many have you?

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4 thoughts on “Be Here Now

  1. Watching my daughters (both in their 20s) I suspect that multitasking may come easier to younger, more facile brains. Like you, I sometimes try to squeeze in an extra activity when I’m dealing with someone who isn’t quite holding my attention, and I also usually find it’s a bad plan.
    I’m not about to give up listening to recorded books while doing housework, though.

    1. That is a good use of multitasking. We listen to books on tape (well, iPod) on road trips. As long as it doesn’t take away from a great conversation we could be having, it works. I decided to finish writing a post for my blog before I caught up on reading your blog and Shawn’s blog. Now I can enjoy both of yours without worrying about mine. :)

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