My husband and I are spending time in the Seattle area, house-sitting for a friend until the end of September. Today I began the drive from Boulder to Seattle, through Wyoming and Montana. It rained most of the morning, but by early afternoon, the scenery was simply spectacular. The colors seemed so alive and vivid, the landscape fresh and new. One particular field of sunflowers simply took my breath away.
I’d driven for more than 700 miles when I started to pay attention to the ribbon of highway in front of me. The road looked just like the ribbon candy that my grandmother used to have in a dish on her coffee table. It was just one ripple after the next, continuing into the distance. Just like I have done so many times before, I picked a spot in the distance, several ripples away, and tried to determine how far it was from my location to that point. Five miles? Ten miles? More? I decided that I would focus on the spot until I reached it and clock the mileage. I’ve done this so many times on long drives before, or should I say that I’ve tried to do this.
The problem is, I can’t remember one time when I actually remembered to maintain my focus that long. It’s always seems that a half hour passes and I remember, “Oh yeah, I was looking for that spot… now where was that”, when I’m long past that point. I’m not sure I’ve EVER remembered and actually clocked it; in the many times I’ve attempted to do this. Something always takes my concentration away.
Today I was determined. I looked at the spot in the distance and thought of it as one of my goals. I thought of this experience as a metaphor for life- knowing that life always brings interesting things to us to take our focus from our goal. I reaffirmed my commitment to achieving this goal and not forgetting or losing focus. I looked at my odometer and guessed the spot was at least 10-15 miles away. Certainly I can hold my concentration for that long!
It was almost like a meditation in that I was training my mind to stay focused on the goal at the end. Just like in life, if we stay focused on the goal and not the things that appear, we’re so much more successful. I was quite proud of myself, going 80 mph for more than 5 minutes and still maintaining my focus on the spot in the distance. I was even saying my goal out loud, talking to myself to reinforce where I was going.
And just as I was beginning to get cocky, wham! I drove into a swarm of flying bugs. Splat, splat, splat all over my windshield. At first I thought it was big raindrops, then I realized that it was yellow bugs! Yuck! It went on for at least a minute or two but the bugs were constant. I felt badly about smashing them but there was no alternative. They were everywhere. I had to turn on the windshield wipers to be able to see where I was going. I was so grateful that I wasn’t on a motorcycle.
And just that quickly, a hilltop, then a mountain came and went and about 20 minutes later I realized I’d gone right past my focus point- without noticing it or remembering it at all. Once again, I was distracted with other things, in this case bugs, and drove right past it. I never did figure out how far those two points were from one another.
The experience made me think of how many times we do the same thing in life. We’ll choose a goal that we want and 6 months later we wonder what happened to that path. We’re so caught up in another situation that just showed up, that we barely remember what it was we were looking for. My guess is that the yellow bugs of life sideswipe us all. Perhaps your bugs are bills, getting fired from that job, illness, or whatever. Regardless, if we let the bugs take our focus off of the goal, who knows where we’ll end up. Try to watch for the bugs in your life today and stay focused on what you want not just what shows up.
(Note: Just as I was posting this I noticed a glitch in our site ranking. I immediately went into fix it/ panic mode, for only a few seconds. Then, I realized it for what it is- a bug. Just a yellow bug. Instead of changing my focus, I went back to be goal and retained my focus on the end goal. There will always be bugs, but I know I get to choose if I chase them or not!)
Please feel free to post comments or write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and share your experience.