I don't know about you but I find, if I'm not careful, I'm easily distracted. And, of course, distractions can be fun, and a necessary break from the altogether more earnest (though not always more enjoyable) concerns of work, maintaining a relationship, maintaining a household, puzzling out the intricacies of Middle Eastern politics and navigating one's way around the Argos catalogue.
If there's anything slightly difficult to do, I'll find excuses to postpone it. Isn't it so much easier to make a cup of coffee rather than rigorously edit that piece of writing? To check out that exciting iPhone or iPad rather than finish War and Peace? To see if another inconsequential email has pinged through instead of meditating upon and honing one's philosophy of life?
Seriously though, I find it rather frightening that one may look back on one's life and find that it's been a long series of distractions, a stop-start frenzy of superficial and instant gratifications, an endless surfing of hollow pleasures. A little bit of denial, a little self-control, some willed assertion over one's hedonistic instincts are essential, I think (and I know I run the risk of sounding a killjoy here).
I've idled away many an hour learning not very much on the Internet. I've wasted much time watching utterly forgettable TV programmes. I like a joint, metaphorical or otherwise, as much as the next person.
But the other evening, while staying in a B&B on the Viking Way, instead of drinking wine in the local pub then drifting into a fuzzy euphoria before watching some rubbishy TV (as it's so easy to do), I drank a non-alcoholic drink, read a book in my room and listened to a Bach oratorio. And it felt so damn good.
I don't want my life to be a distraction. On my deathbed I don't want to recall trips to Sainsbury but trips to Samarkand. I want to really live. Intensely, madly, deeply. And I want to do it now.