Life: A Wide-Angle Lens

Focus. Zooming in. Careful attention.

Variety. Lack of boredom. Multi-tasking.

Some people may see these items at opposing ends of spectrum, but I see them as essential for my sanity. I enjoy juggling several projects and, ever since I took a coaching for higher performance course in grad school, I work hard to balance whatever I do into three important categories to maintain a balance in my life.

During the past six months I have had people imply–or state outright–that I am not focused. Some people know me well, such as a friend who teaches a blended K/1 class: “Seriously, were you a hyperactive child? I think you’d be labeled ADHD today.”

Others don’t know me at all, such as an agent I met at a writing conference: “Juggle several projects? No! We want to work with writers who are focused.”

Others know me well but seem to project their life philosophy onto me: “Where’s your vision? You need to focus.” “What is it that you want? Rein in your energy.” “How do you get anything accomplished when you juggle so much?” “If you could focus on just one thing, what would it be?”

Beneath all these comments I detected doubt. And it was bugging me. I began to doubt myself. I began to doubt the balance I work to maintain. When everything is balanced I thrive on all that juggling. I seem to reach optimal performance.

I felt really grumpy about all this doubt. And the grumpiness led to feeling out of kilter. So I grabbed my camera and headed through the dew to the pond behind my building. Nature centers me and I knew I could click myself back into balance.

I soon realized that I kept moving between wide angle and zooming-in. For each photo I took I widened my view, then took the big picture. Then I zoomed in, took a few more. Tightened the focus, and took some close-ups. Once I found a new place around the pond, I repeated from that new perspective.

Am I supposed to go through life using just my telephoto lens? That doesn’t work for me. I always need to see the big picture before I can focus in. My way works for me. And, now that I feel centered and have some cool nature images to post around my office, I’m ready to tackle my list of projects.

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