Last weekend I spent quite a bit of time sitting on our deck with my DSLR camera. I put on the longest lens I have and started looking in the trees. I wasn’t looking for anything in particular — maybe a bird or squirrel. When I took the camera away from my face and spotted a creature in a tree, it would take me a while to find it with my camera because I had the lens out as far as it would go. I’d have to scan over several branches to finally land on the animal I was trying to view up close.
Having a long lens like that is really useful sometimes. It helps me capture pictures like these…
But, there are times when that lens is just too long. I could see the squirrel in the back of the yard, but if I wanted to turn my chair and take a picture of one of our dogs lying down next to me? It wouldn’t work. I had to switch out lenses to take a picture of something that close. And, of course, I did because they are just so photogenic!
What am I even looking at?
Right now I feel like I’m viewing my whole life zoomed in on every aspect of my life. I am hyper focused on one spot and when I try to move to a new view, it takes time to refocus. The lens goes in and out of focus every time I move it. Half the time I’m not even sure what I’m looking at.
I can count the handful of times I’ve left my house since beginning to physically distance myself on March 13. My world once consisted of Indianapolis — north side, Broad Ripple, downtown — on a regular basis. I’d head to the west side of town sometimes or even a few hours south to Tennessee. Now my world is my house with an occasional trip to the store around the corner. My vision is on zoom and it’s hard to switch out the lenses to get a different view…
I’m zoomed in on myself…
How am I coping? How is work going? What am I doing to stay busy? Why do I need to be busy? Why is it so hard for me to just be? I’ll go run, no, I’ll watch TV, no, I’ll sew… wait, what am I doing? Why am I not handling this better? Or am I actually handling this really well? Wait, who am I?
I’m zoomed in on my relationships…
Why don’t they call more? Did I do something wrong? What did that look mean? Why isn’t she responding to my text, what else could she be doing? I wonder when I’ll be able to see them again. How long until we can hug other people? Is this showing people’s true feelings about me or am I reading too much into it?
I’m zoomed in on the news…
Maybe if I read up on everything he says I’ll feel better about what’s going on. Just kidding, that’s a horrible idea, stop reading what he says. Who is right? What is wrong? How will I know when it’s safe to go out again? What is safe anymore? Why can’t I put this down?
And every time I switch to a different topic, I’m all out of focus for a while. Just like when I’m trying to find something in the trees with my long lens, it takes some time to figure out where I’m looking and what I’m looking at. When I go from zoomed in on me over to her and then to that and back, well, my mind is worn out.
By mid-afternoon every day I am done. I feel overcome with a wave of exhaustion that I’ve never experienced before. Apparently being zoomed in on multiple things at once is more than my mind and body can handle, so they turn off.
Looking at the big picture
I’ve read that it’s important not to overanalyze things too much during this time of world-wide trauma. That it’s not a good time to make big decisions or read too much into how a person is responding. I have a feeling we’re all zoomed in a little too close and are having trouble seeing the bigger picture right now.
Though the long lens let’s me see the squirrel up close, it doesn’t allow me to see the bird sitting on a branch nearby or the rabbit next to the fence. If I switched out the lens, I could see all three at once. Of course, I wouldn’t be able to see them in the same detail, but I’m not sure this is the time for getting into the details. Maybe right now is the time for panoramic pictures, full landscapes with a broad view.
Looking at the big picture requires different angles, adjusted camera settings and training my eye new ways. Which means I need to practice — it won’t come naturally.
We can do this, friends. Just take a few steps back when you can and look at the bigger picture. (And if you find yourself zoomed in now and then, that’s okay too.)