BREATHE ISSUE 49

In this issue: Happy places – Write at the heart – The forgotten power of being humble – Pull of the wild – Mixed signals – You’re in the right lane – Works in progress – Tales of the unexpected – Life stories – When two rivers meet

Tiresome, unnecessary, time-consuming. Distraction is deemed many things, generally negative. There’s also a less-than-flattering perception of those who succumb to it, ask anyone whose school reports regularly bemoaned the fact they were ‘easily distracted in class’.

But is distraction really that bad? Always? Might there be a case for a more nuanced view, one that recognises the value in pressing pause on a task or, on a wider scale, taking time out to reassess a life goal? Maybe distraction could be welcomed, even encouraged, as a means to look up from all the day’s ‘must dos’ and life’s ‘shoulds’ and engage with the world in a more open and inquisitive way. To give it more than a passing glance as another item is ticked off the to-do list or a goal reached en route to the big prize.

Of course, there are times when concentration is necessary, be it finishing a project, listening to a troubled friend or driving a car. But the idea that it’s necessary always to stay fixated on a task, always to keep to the same path, always to be head down working, learning, striving is tricky to stick to. It also circumscribes curiosity, clarity and contentment. In his 1911 poem, Leisure, Welsh poet WH Davies asked: What is this life if, full of care / We have no time to stand and stare? Sometimes distraction has a way of bringing what’s important into focus.

Cover Illustration: Rosanna Tasker .