Friday, April 20, 2012

Focus on What's Close

"Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards." -Soren Kierkegaard

I was recently eating dinner with my family at a reasonably nice restaurant. For some reason, I was pretty tired and not feeling incredibly well, so I took off my glasses and put my head on the table. Embarrassingly, it was right when the very attractive waitress walked up. Quickly I raised my head and looked into her stunning eyes (this is completely tangent to the point of today's post by the way) and ordered my meal. An interesting thought struck me as I was surveying the restaurant with my semi-blind eyes. I could hear many conversations happening, and it was evident that there was a packed restaurant environment thriving all around me, but I couldn't see it clearly at all. My eyes are bad enough that everything was a blur. All I could see was my family.

The thought that came to me as I was sitting there was this: sometimes life is exactly like that restaurant. Often I've noticed that in my life that it is difficult to focus on things in the distance. It is almost as if our minds cannot make out the shapes of the events coming. What is to come seems to captivate our minds, even when we have no inkling as to what it might be, or how the future will unfold. I wonder if this parallel between the restaurant and life can be taken a step further. What if the things that are close to us in life can be seen very clearly, even when the future is unclear? In the midst of stressful life situations, can we choose to focus on what is near to us? Maybe college seems like a daunting obstacle in your path. You don't know if you want to go, where you want to go, where the money will come from, etc. Or perhaps you've been laid off from you job, and the foreseeable future seems to be filled with financial struggles, stress, troubles of all kind. In times like these what can we focus on that is close to us?

Maybe it is the things and people that we love that we should be focusing on when life throws us a curve ball. How many marriages have ended as a result of a husband getting too concerned with work? How many times have you seen two outfielders charge towards the same fly ball only to collide because they weren't paying attention to what was close to them? You cannot drive a car by only looking far off in the distance; you have to closely monitor the stretch of road in front of you. This certainly does not mean that we should ignore those things in the distance. Not at all. Life centers around achieving goals. How much greater would those goals and accomplishments be, though, if we were more aware of our immediate surroundings? I am going to immediately regret this, but I think a quote from Star Wars could help here. Anyone remember what Qui Gon Jinn told Obi Wan Kenobi in The Phantom Menace when Kenobi was focused on the future? Of course you don't. He said, "Keep your feelings here and now." (I indeed do regret that decision.) They were in a fictional story, but the principle remains the same.

Is there a healthy balance of focusing on things that are close and things that are further away? Probably. Will any of us find that balance and stick with it? Doubtful. Life is a constant game of balance; a matter of trial and error, and no man or woman is immune to failure. So don't try to be. Just never let you eyes stray too far away from you immediate life for too long. You never know what might change while your eyes wander. (Sappy ending sentiment....check.)

Thanks for reading. You can follow me on Twitter here if you'd like.


  1. Props for the Star Wars quote. Too bad it was from Phantom Menace.

    In all seriousness, finding the balance between working towards the future and staying in the present is really hard.

    1. The original trilogy is eons better, I just couldn't think of a relevant quote, haha. Thanks for reading and sharing!