Ooh, Shiny!

Diversions, distractions, and delightful detours.

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It doesn’t matter what I’m doing: if I see a butterfly, I am instantly distracted. I like to think of myself as a focused, disciplined person. I make lists, I schedule my day, I plan my work and work my plan. When I’m inside my house, nothing can pull me out of the zone when I’m writing or in deep thought about solving a problem at work.

Outside is a different story. Yesterday, I brought my laptop out to my garden to work. I was in a text meeting with a colleague when an enormous butterfly fluttered in front of me and then settled on the zinnia patch next to my elbow. I had just asked a serious question of my colleague, and in the middle of our conversation, before he even had time to respond, I typed “OMG GIANT SWALLOWTAIL!!!”

Professional? Not so much. But, butterflies!

Black swallowtail in our Virginia garden. My favorite distraction.

Like a dog that sees a squirrel and jerks the leash out of its owner’s hand to chase it, I just can’t help but get excited, and 100% sidetracked, by monarchs, swallowtails, frittilaries, hairstreaks. They’re like jewels of the air. They are vibrant, graceful, full of light. And they are goofy as well, wobbling and weaving in their flight in a way that makes me laugh. I photograph them at every opportunity.

What about you: what is guaranteed to distract you? What is your “Ooh, shiny!”?

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  1. What a wonderful post! I have a similar experience to share. A few years ago my husband and I were fencing a pasture when all of a sudden monarch butterflies started drifting by from all directions. They must have just hatched, as this was early summer. I had to stop what I was doing and enjoy the show. That didn’t earn me any brownie points from my partner, though.

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  2. Great challenge, because I can be so distracted by anything shiny and shining. But then again, this is all about light – and that’s quite a beacon for a good photo, isn’t it? I show how I got distracted by “ooh, shiny” in a recent art show.

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  3. My “Ooh, Shiny!” are dogs. I am such a dog person. I can’t help but give a dog my complete attention, till it is gone. My job on campus is the Resident Advisor position, known as RA. So, I see a lot of things, but the moment I see a dog, I lose my professional etiquette and become this focused, attention- caught dog lover in complete awe!

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  4. Seeing the familiar in unfamiliar places provides a pleasant distraction to me. It could be as simple as the sight of clothes hanging out to dry. For one thing, it reminds me of the place I grew up in the Philippines. On the other, it’s gratifying to experience this common thread that binds people regardless of geography and distance.

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