Shifting the Lens

There’s a color commentator in my head who spins me this way and that with a play-by-play of how I’m operating in the world. I call her Ethel. Ethel touts all the stats she remembers from the past and predicts the future.

She’s spent years up VERY close (inside my head close…), observing my life as if it were a sporting event. She is fascinated by the narrative of my challenging childhood, my heroic ability to step up the plate and make a run for the team. During times of drama she moves to the edge of her seat. Her enthusiasm is broadcast on all of my personal listening channels.

But a lot of the time Ethel is bored. Ordinary life just doesn’t hold her attention. That’s when she pulls up her old script, her disappointment with my performance. If I’m not feeling connected with my body, my deeper wisdom, I run the risk of believing her. A significant risk indeed.

Ethel thinks she has 20/20 vision, but her distant vision is seriously lacking. When I look at the world through her lens, I’m myopic too. I see the problems in front of me. I see myself as someone who needs fixing. I move from object to object, from task to task, from goal to goal, and I miss…basically the whole wide world around me. I’m lost in the game and believing Ethel about how well I’m doing.

But lately I’ve been noticing I can switch the lens. When I’m not enthralled with Ethel’s advice or commentary, I gain my peripheral vision. The world is infinitely wider and more spacious. It’s kinder, too.

Without the allure of the Big Game, she discovers there’s more to life. Where’s Ethel? I imagine her pulling up a cot and taking a well-deserved nap. She can feel retirement coming on. Without the sense of urgency, I imagine, she can just hang out, be there as I smell the flowers or wash the dishes.

She’s traded in her hyperfocus lens for a wider angle. And that spells peace in my world.

One Response to “Shifting the Lens”

  1. Anne Gordon

    Thank you Susan for this wonderful metaphor of “shifting the lens.” It is so helpful to know that we can shift perspective to “eagle vision” any time we notice we think we need a good fix’in. Also, noticing when Ethel is working overtime and needs a good rest and even retirement seems gentle and kind too.


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