The Short View and the Long View

The other day I had a conversation with a friend about how we see the events and circumstances of our lives.  She talked about the “short view” versus the “long view.”  She stated, “Sometimes if we can’t change the big picture [the long view], we focus on the little things [the short view].”  And this can be problematic.

Throughout the day I kept thinking about our conversation.  And whenever I respond to something with surprising interest, I believe there must be a reason for it.  Maybe I need to learn something. Or be aware of something.  Or reframe something. So the next morning I settled into a comfortable chair with my journal, opened it to a blank page, and began to write, asking myself: What does “short view” and “long view” mean to me?  Here’s my summary:

The short view, I wrote, can cause us to get “tripped up” by unexpected and unwelcome setbacks in our journey.  These “bumps in the road” could be logistical, like an unexpected expense, or emotional, like a hurtful, discouraging remark.  These events can drain our energy, diminish our self-confidence, and cause us to lose sight of the hopes, dreams, goals and possibilities of the long view.  As its name suggests, the short view is short-sighted.

This does not mean, however, that I should ignore or repress my memories and feelings about a short-view setback.  I’ve learned that every moment is a teaching moment, and I can learn from the most unexpected places at the most unexpected times.  But when the short view begins to look like the long view itself, I know my vision needs correction.

The long view. Columbia, MD.
Photo JStanton

The evening following our conversation, I had this dream:

I was running in a marathon.  (I do run distances but not marathons, at least not yet!)  About half-way through the race, I got a little lost.  I had approached some turns but I wasn’t sure which turn would keep me on the marathon course.  There were no signs telling me which way to go, and there were no other runners around to give me direction. (I’m sure they were all ahead of me—something I can truly believe!)  Finally, I asked the volunteers stationed along the way where I should turn. They tried to help me, but several turns later only resulted in short streets (the short view?).  I never found the extended, stretched-out course of the marathon (the long view?) that I needed to be on.   

So there you have it.  A dream as a teaching moment.  Perhaps I’d find it worthwhile to ask myself: Where am I too focused on the short view?  And what is the long view I need to be on at this time of my life?  Whatever I learn and discover, I’m sure it will be an adventure.  I look forward to it.

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