Have you ever been so focused on one thing that everything and everyone else just seems to fade away? Has anyone ever complained to you that you’re just not present enough? Have your problems become so big in your mind that you don’t think you could possibly overcome them?
That’s tunnel vision.
I’ve mentioned my hiking excursions with R.J. and that’s where I encountered a very big example of tunnel vision. I used to fall – A LOT – so now I’m a bit paranoid about doing it again, especially down the side of a hill. So I focus on the ground immediately in front of me when the terrain is new or rough.
That’s when I noticed how much I slow down. After I get past the rough or steep patch I look up and R.J. is way ahead of me. I have to jog to catch up to him most times even though he’s nice enough to stop and wait for me.
But of course this made me think of other times in my life when I became so focused on what I was doing or what was happening to me – even though I had no control over my circumstances – that I almost became immobile.
It used to happen a lot…
I would become so overwhelmed that I could barely function. I was irritable and frustrated and angry for no apparent reason. People around me often had no clue as to why I was such a bitch all the time.
There was one reason. I had tunnel vision.
Think about it, tunnel vision is a purely internal perspective on life. No one around me had any clue, unless I told them, about what I was so focused on that I couldn’t see anything else. But even if I did tell them chances are they wouldn’t understand since no one else had my perspective or my circumstances.
Humans are very immediate, if it’s not happening to me I don’t really care animals. Sure there are a few that can fake concern and even fewer that do actually care, but for the most part tunnel vision is a solitary experience.
I don’t remember when I figured out I had to look up and out all those years ago. I don’t think it happened all at once. It was a gradual process where I realized I didn’t want to lose the people I was closest to. And let me tell you nothing pushes someone away faster than tunnel vision.
There are times when tunnel vision serves a purpose – like helping me to not trip and fall in the woods. But once I get back to solid ground I make it a point to raise my head and take in my surroundings. Same thing goes when I’m writing.
I can’t afford to focus on me all the time anymore. Life goes by too fast as it is. I don’t want to finally look up and out one day only to find that life has passed me by completely. Missing out on all the good stuff in life is way scarier to me now than any problem I could ever focus on.