July 27, 2020
Filed In: Philosophy
The opportunity to gain clarity in your life is rare. The busyness of the world and daily distractions easily get us to lose focus on our objectives. We’ve got too much going on in the present to be concerned about tomorrow, the broader future, or even what’s just on our periphery.
My family is growing in the next few weeks with the birth of my fourth child. One of my favorite parenting techniques for helping my kids prepare for the birth, and the dramatic changes to come, is to pull out baby gear in phases. I start with the car seats. First, everyone gets their new seat assignment. A week or two later, the new car seat base is installed. More time passes, and the empty seat is fully installed. It gives them a chance to adjust and takes the edge off when the new baby is finally here.
One of the benefits of impending birth is the gift of focus. I know that my whole routine is going to be upended, so I make a detailed study of what’s working now and what isn’t. I’m looking out for blind spots and pitfalls. With that information, I process what changes will be necessary. It also gets me to think about my future. Insurance coverages are reviewed, plans are checked, and other important things come to mind that I haven’t considered in months, or even years.
Another opportunity for clarity came with the pandemic. I went to Confession the weekend before everything shut down. In those six or eight weeks when the parish doors were shut and locked, and I knew that the Sacraments weren’t available to me, I thought differently about my actions. I readily acknowledged the grace present within me, and labored to grow in virtue. It worked. I was engaged, consistent, and committed to my personal spiritual growth. When the doors re-opened, I lost some of my spark. It’s not a loss, though. That focus proved something to me: I can do it. All I need to do is re-implement the plan.
Focus is breathing room. It’s the space that we need to process the events of our lives and chart a path forward. While some major events naturally tend to lend focus, giving yourself a momentary pause to catch your breath and evaluate your life might be all that you need to course correct and get moving in the right direction.