Killing One Bird with Two Stones

Humans are pretty fantastic.

We can surf the Internet on our computer and make calls on our cell phones at the same time. We can run on a treadmill and watch television. Some of us (the chosen few) can even drink a beverage and walk down the street.

But, like normal humans, we want more.

We would all sleep with our eyes open if there was a way to get the rest we needed while being able to knit a scarf. In fact, I actually saw someone applying foundation at a red light the other day. With a brush and everything. I wonder if she was trying to do the mortician’s job for them by not paying attention to driving and risking her life, but putting on her make-up anyway.

Of course, I won’t pretend that I am above this type of behavior. I am currently talking to you and watching television. After all, I am a child of this multitasking generation. In my head, I am killing two birds with one stone.

But which is it? Am I watching television? Or am I typing out a blog post?

The reality is I am doing neither. In order to save time, I have chosen to type my blog post while trying to catch up on a television show. But my mind is split: one half is firmly on the plot while the other is firmly on the blog. Thus, I am being productive in neither task because I am always not paying attention to one or the other. I am actually killing one bird with two stones. (If you will pardon the cruel and crude adage. No birds were actually harmed in the making of this blog post.)

And it makes sense. Think about a juggler with three balls. (Or chainsaws, or batons on fire, whatever, pick your poison). Now, imagine that this man or woman starts to juggle whatever he or she is to juggle. If you watch closely enough in your mind’s eye, you will see that he or she is not holding on to any one ball, chainsaw, or baton for longer than a second. This is what happens when you try to multitask. Your mind is a sieve; it only holds on to something as long as it doesn’t slip out of the holes.

But you argue, I can listen to music and study at the same time! or I can cook two different things simultaneously. And I don’t doubt that, except for the fact that I doubt it.

You see, you aren’t really listening to music. You’re studying, and your brain registers the music in the background. Or you are listening to music, hearing the lyrics and notes. And you are just moving your eyes along, taking in nothing. And then, if you are cooking two things at once, it is only because one of those things does not require your full attention. You can set the timer and work on something else while the water boils. That is hardly multitasking. It’s more like babysitting pasta.

I know, I know, it is a hard truth to recognize that we can’t squeeze every drop out of every moment of our every day. It’s hard to reconcile that we can’t do more to fill our lives with the time that we have. But if we measure out our time carefully on this Earth, if we sip on life instead of taking large gulps, we will not want for another second. We will be able to truly multitask: we will be able to taste and savor life simultaneously.

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