September 23. “Eyes that look are common; eyes that see are rare.” (J. Oswald Sanders)
Did you ever get to work and wonder how you got there? Most people have a routine in the morning that governs how they prepare for work, and then get themselves there. For me, once I leave the house I am pretty much on auto pilot. I take the exact same path to work every day, drive the same speed, and make the same coffee stop. It would be a challenge for me to tell you anything specific about a particular morning’s ride. My eyes are open, and I am driving carefully, but I am not really seeing anything around me. I couldn’t tell you if I saw someone walking, or what cars I may have passed. At best I could tell you what I heard on the radio, but on some days even that would be a challenge.
The fact is that when I am in my routine, I can look around me and not really see what’s happening. That routine isn’t limited to the morning commute. There are days when I feel like my entire life is on auto pilot. I am focused on the job or task at hand, but rarely see much beyond. Many times someone will ask me if I saw something that happened around me, and while it may have passed my field of vision, I was completely unaware.
While my examples here are literal, it can also be a metaphorical blindness as well. People can pass through my emotional field of view without me noticing something about them. I am a sensitive person, and usually I will notice when someone is particularly upbeat, or down in the mouth, but not always.
I think that my own stress level, and my own mood, will have a tendency to expand or contract my field of view. When I am in a good frame of mind I see more. When my emotions are raw, or when my stress level is high, I tend to close ranks and I see far less.
I don’t think I am unique in any of this. I think it’s true for most of us that how deeply we perceive the world around us varies from day to day. How much of the world we filter is often influenced by our own ability and willingness to take something in. And, I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. Some days it is necessary to just close in and take care of ourselves.
The last few weeks at work have been ridiculously stressful. This week has gotten off to a better start, but that could turn on a dime this morning – for better or for worse. I know that with this level of work stress there are probably things going on around me that are passing through my literal or figurative field of vision that just aren’t registering.
This morning my reflection is on whether I might be missing something important around me. Maybe today I will drive a different path to work to shake things up and change my perspective a bit. A few simple changes to my own perspective may not only help me see what is going on with others, but it might give me a fresher outlook on my own challenges.