Jeff and I were pinned down behind a snow bank in a furious snowball fight with Larry - a kid six years our senior. The event was made more important by an audience of a dozen other kids, including Bambi, the cute girl from across the street.
Our strategy was simple. We'd quickly make five snowballs each, spring up from behind the three foot drift and fire away. Larry had the better arm but we could throw two snowballs to his every one. The contest had reached a stalemate.
Huddled behind the safety of cover while manufacturing more ammo, we heard Larry call out Jeff's name. Jeff, peaking over the edge of our snow bank watched Larry uncork the highest pop-up ever thrown. As Jeff's gaze followed the rising snowball, his body involuntarily raised with his eyes. He never saw what hit him.
Larry's second toss, released the instant Jeff's gaze was distracted by the pop-up, exploded on target right in Jeff's kisser. The kids watching exploded in laughter and it instantly spread across the battlefield. The skirmish ended with all of us - even Jeff - rolling on the ground guffawing.
The attraction of distraction claims all of us at some time, and some of us all the time.
By definition, a distraction is anything that pulls us away from our purpose. Jeff's purpose was to score hits on Larry, something he momentarily forgot while watching that high flying snowball.
The distractions we chase are many and varied.
As a child, anything that takes our attention away from school looks inviting. Although our purpose is to learn certain subjects, sports, girls and lunch easily make us forget why we are there.
As a teen, our purpose is to prepare for living on our own. Of course, these are the years we're trying to discover who we are. Some ugly statistics in drug use, crime rate and unwed pregnancy reveal how many get distracted during these years.
As young adults, we want a family and career. The purpose is to find happiness and security by acquiring a life partner and a job. A 50% divorce rate and the high rate of families with both parents working, show how easily we're distracted from those goals.
When we hit 30 to 40, some of us finally begin reviewing what our true purpose should be. Why are we on this planet? What is our mission? What do we want to accomplish during the short number of years we have? Most of us want to make a difference - to make the place a bit better for our having been here.
But sadly, the lure of distraction strikes again. We allow work to take more of our time, lying to ourselves that more money will mean more happiness. When it doesn't arrive, we salve ourselves by buying something to ease our pain. The purchase only enslaves us more to the job, leaving us less time for ourselves.
Some people never establish a purpose and let their lives become a giant 80-year distraction. On the other hand, some establish a purpose that insures unhappiness - like chasing money - and then allow no distractions to pull them from that goal, chasing away their family in the process.
The solution is balance. Know where you're going and why, but give yourself time to rejuvenate occasionally in other activities.
I learned what happens without this balance just two days after that snowball fight. Larry and I were trying to bait Bambi into a similar snowball war. Having witnessed Larry's prior victory, she wanted no part of it. So Larry tried his trick again, firing a high pop-up in her direction, waiting with a second salvo for the instant of distraction. Bambi laughed at his obvious ploy, refusing to look away and become a casualty like Jeff.
You guessed it. Two seconds later, Larry's pop-up curled over the top of its trajectory and splattered directly on top of Bambi's head.
Mike Johnson is an energetic writer & entrepreneur. Learn more about Mike's offerings at www.MikeJohnson.biz