Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Interruption of Interaction

Heather and Chris hamming it up

I give up.  I mean, I was really looking forward to just a couple of hours of peace and quiet in order to finish the final chapter of Reaping the Harvest.  Even I didn’t know how Rhychard Bartlett was going to survive the battle with the dark elves, gargoyles, and Buttercup’s pimp and I was the one writing the story.  It should have been a quiet evening.  The girls were out shopping for the next week’s groceries, Zac was at work, and the eight-year old was in her room hanging Barbie Dolls while the girls from Monster High laughed in the background.  I grabbed a cup of coffee, slipped on my black fedora and snuck out to the solitude of the back porch.  After a brief glance around my personal world, our backyard, I took a deep breath and began to find out how Rhychard fared.

Just as Rhychard drew the Guardian Sword and the pimp fired off a shot from his gun my solitude ended.  “Hey, Rob, whatcha doing?”  She leaned across the table I was working at, DSI in her hand blaring some song I didn’t know, left foot swinging back and forth behind her.  She isn’t even looking at what I am doing, just staring at her Nintendo screen.

“I’m working on a story,” I answer.  “I need to try and finish this.”

“Oh.”  She didn’t seem concerned or to care.  “When are the girls going to be back?”

“I’m not sure.  Why?”

“No reason.  Just curious.  So, what’s your story about this time?  Am I in it?”  Luckily, I was working on the fantasy novel and not one of the erotica stories.  From there she wanted a drink and two pieces of candy.  Her Barbies were also rescued and brought to the back porch only to be strung up again.  My quietness now seemed more like a preschool nursery.

No longer able to concentrate, I tell Dylan I’m going for more coffee.  However, once I have my refill I settle down in my recliner in the television room and pick my storyline back up.

I wonder how much it costs to ship him
“Hey, pops!  Where’s everyone at?”  Zac, home from work, plops down on the couch.

“Shopping.”  My answer is more a sigh than a word.

“Oh, cool, cool.  So today at work, I crop dusted the whole row of agents.”  That’s his phrase for farting.  He’s laughing.  Loud.  “It was sooo bad.  Mind if I watch television?”

I pick up my coffee and make my way to our sitting room and my recliner there.  I manage a sip of coffee before I begin again on Rhychard’s predicament.  The phone rings.  It’s Heather.

“Hey, Padre.  Mom won’t answer her phone.”

“They’re shopping.”  My pen is now tapping my notebook.  By now, I’m thinking I should have done the grocery shopping.

“Oh,well, listen to what happened today.”  And I do.  For fifteen minutes.

By the time we hang up the girls are back and the van needs unloaded and groceries put away.  They have their stories to share and special deals to recite.  I hear the next week’s menu and what snacks I’m allowed to have.  They’re laughing and joking as Zac and Dylan are asking if they can dig into dessert now.  My house is no longer quiet and my window of solitude is gone.  I’ll figure out Rhychard’s fate, but not this night.  This night my family needed my attention and that was more important than the story right then.

I’ll be honest, it’s not always easy.  Sometimes it’s downright frustrating, especially if I’m really deep into what I’m doing.  It doesn’t help that we have a big family, which means even more interruptions.  Yet, each one is important.  People are important.  These moments need to be seen as interactions not interruptions.  Believe me; there will come a day when you will miss those disturbances to your peace and quiet.  There will be plenty of time for me to put words to paper, but never enough time to spend with my family.

No naps allowed
When Dylan crawls up into my lap to show me something or Zac plops down on the couch to share a story or one of the others call just checking in, that’s life’s way of making me take a break from the words I’m writing and focus on the people the words are for, instead.  These interactions are pauses in a busy life to remind us what is important on this journey.  Life is not about activity, careers, or endeavors.  Life is about people, relationships.  Those we love need our attention more than they need anything else.  Furthermore, they deserve our undivided attention.

This part can be hard for me, as well, especially if I’m in the middle of a story or essay.  I don’t want to lose my thought and the flow of words, so I try to split my attention between both, scribbling while listening.  However, each gets done only halfway and the person is left feeling as if I don’t care enough about them to stop what I’m doing for five minutes and simply listen.  I have to put my pen down and look at them, focusing on the words they are saying instead of words I would rather be writing.

The book you’re reading isn’t that important, and as a writer that hurt to say.  That television show will wait.  There’s a pause button, a recorder or you can catch it on Netflix the following summer.  It can wait.  Cleaning the house, working on a hobby, or even getting ready for dinner, none of these are as important as the people in our lives and we need to slow down and enjoy them while they are here.  Everything else will come back around; people don’t always have that luxury.  Make the most of every interruption.  It’s life’s way of saying, “Pay attention to them.”

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  1. Well said, Robbie, so I'll just add my 'amen' to this.
    Cherish your family.

  2. I'll agree, well said indeed. I have two roommates, so there's always something going down, and I cherish the moments when both of them are at work, but I also love having them around too. Writing will come when it comes. Thank you so much for posting this, I needed to hear it. ^__^

    1. I need reminding of it as well at times. We get so focused on what seems urgent, we forget what's important. Thanks for you comments.