This is another one of those posts about running. I end up on the trails with nothing but my own thoughts for company, and this is what happens.
The other morning, I realized I am a “far horizon” girl when I run. I like to look at the hills, the vistas, the mountains in the distance. Which is great and all. They are beautiful. The views of God’s creation feeds my soul.
It is really difficult to run up a hill when you are looking to the top of the hill. It is a trick that all runners know. If you want to power up a hill, you have to look at your feet. Because if your view is one foot in front of you, you can’t see the hill. Yes, your body still knows you are running up a hill, but you can keep your mind from sabotaging the effort by just putting one foot in front of the other.
And the act of looking down at your feet has the added bonus of allowing you to notice the details–the rocks shaped like leaves, the footprints of deer, the way the frost looks on the sage brush–details you miss when you are looking at the far horizon.
I used to experience this tension when walking Elliott to school. I would be walking down the street, admiring the paint color on this house, and the porch light on that house. And would realize that Elliott was no longer at my side. I would stop. Turn around. And see him kneeling down, looking at something. I would walk back to see what was going on and discover him intently studying an ant carrying a bit of leaf, or maybe he had seen a centipede scurrying out of the way.
In any case, he had noticed things that I had missed because I was looking at the far horizon, and not looking at the details up close.
And that is the tension we find in our lives. You can’t look at your feet all the time. You’d run into traffic. You’d hit walls. You’d miss the glory of the view.
But you can’t just look at the far horizon either. You miss the details. You end up unable to run up the hill.
How do you prefer to view the world? Are you a far horizon person? Or do you like to watch the ants carry leaf bits?
My experience the other day on the trail has me re-considering how well I know myself. (Which is a common theme for me the past 6 months.) Last week, I would have described myself as a detail person. I am the one in committee meetings who says, “sure. That’s a great idea. How will we pay for it? Who is going to set up the tables? Who is buying the pipe cleaners?” I function in details in my daily living. I don’t think people who know me would consider me a “far horizon” vision kind of girl.
And I don’t think that just because I like looking at mountains doesn’t mean I can’t be a detail person. But I’m beginning to wonder if my detail-noticing-tendencies are not who I am but only something I do so I can make it to the top of the proverbial hill, where the view will be even better.
What if I am actually a far horizon person in places in my life other than running?
To those of you (please tell me you exist) who know yourselves well and deeply, move along. Nothing to see here…
But for the rest of you (please tell me you exist too) who, like me, seem to have trouble with self awareness, what are some of the moments when you learned something “new” about yourself? Who were the people who helped you see yourself more clearly? How did those new insights interact with your previously held understandings of yourself?
9 thoughts on “Horizons”
• I really love your blog, and today’s post was especially resonant for me. As someone who’s been through lots of personal counseling, journals frequently, and has been working on a Master’s in Counseling for five years, self-reflection and self-awareness are a constant. Your post pointed out, though, that those deeply revealing moments happen so often when we’re caught up in thinking about something else. I had a friend ask me the other day if awareness is enough to change something. In my opinion, awareness is just awareness. Sometimes it provides the motivation to change things you’d like to see change. Other times, it leads to deeper examination of why we do things, and to greater acceptance of and compassion for ourselves.
I’ve been noticing lately that I am a far-horizon girl at heart, and that I have to constantly remind myself to stay present. When I start seeing the future as a time when things will be better (when I’m done with school, when I am not single anymore, when I start a family of my own…), I miss out. I have to remember that through my past, no matter how difficult times have been, there is always something I feel nostalgic about. I try to think about what I will be most nostalgic about down the road when I reflect on this moment, and focus on staying with those things right now. I start to realize what I love about being single, that I can still harmonize in the car with Dad as we drive around town, and that I really love a balance of work and school. It is absolutely a “tension” like you said, and one that is so challenging. It changes shape and meaning as we age.
• Anyway, my point is that as I’ve read your blog posts, I feel myself starting to become more nostalgic about youth group and your physical presence in my life. To reframe in the spirit of focusing on the now, I am so thankful to be able hear your perspective through the web, and again be supported and influenced by you as I was during my youth.
Thank you for you, Marci!
Exactly right, Lisa. The horizon phenomena is about time and presence too. Thanks for adding that dimension to this conversation. Even more to ponder!
Interesting thoughts, Marci. My feeling is that it is best to be both – far horizon and deep present. That is still my challenge. We must be both, not either/or. Choosing the right time to be one or the other is the challenge, I think. For me, it has always been easier to be anywhere but in the present moment, and as I am becoming more and more aware of my need to do so, I am beginning to realize that this is present salvation for me. It is an insight I thank God for.
Yes, Carol. We have to tend to both. But is it just me or is there one or the other that comes more naturally to us? Thankful for your realizations about the present! May we all live with such intention!
I was raised to be a far horizon girl (as my parents put it, the story is too obscure to retell, to plan ahead how many patches of pickles I could pick), and it got me a long way professionally, but it hasn’t been good for me personally. I think about this question a lot: what am I living for? What horizon is really worth it? The people I worship with now have resolved the question in this way: the horizon they are focused on is the coming of Moshiach — but he could come at any time, so you have to be paying attention.
The person who’s helping me balance my attention best and see myself most clearly right now is an actor. I still struggle with that.
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Am still pondering horizons.
This week, I got a new prescription for my contact lenses, which is great for my far horizon viewing. Who knew those were trees up there on the mountains??
But have discovered there is another horizon that I’ve lost because of the new prescription. I can’t read the sheet music on my music stand when I try to play cello now. I can read a book or computer screen. I can see people waving to me on mountains. I can’t see my music.
I’m sure there’s a sermon illustration here somewhere…
My optometrist told me, the last time I saw him, that this inflexibility that you’re describing starts to be an issue right at about our age –42, 43, 44.