I was writing a letter to a friend today and went of on a metaphorical tangent about what people call "the big picture".
What came out was a little odd, but it got me thinking...
Here is what I wrote to her.
"You've just become re-acquainted with something adults like to call "The Big Picture". Personally, 'still-wishing-she-were-a-college-student-so-she-doesn't-have-to-deal-with-real-life' Sarah says the big picture is over rated. And hard to lug around (bear with me while I go into a metaphor)
"It's so much easier to carry around little wallet sized pictures of life. And you can take them out and show your friends and be excited about the moment. There's nothing worse than the question "what are your plans for down the road?" or "what do you see yourself doing in a couple years?". Those, to me, aren't very fair questions. They force you to haul out this massive painting that's incomplete. There's a tiny square in the middle which is complete and beautiful but everything else is light pencil sketches so they can be erased and changed later."
I went on to tell her that it's important to be aware of the big picture but you don't have to lug it around with you all the time.
It's important to plan for the future. But looking down that "road" people ask about is not a easy as you might think. If it were one of those straight country roads that go on forever-like the ones you find in the Midwest-sure. No problem. But it's more like the roads out here in Maine. They say things like "Highway 73 South" but there are all these sharp turns and all of a sudden the road whips into another direction. So even though you are still on 73 south you are really going west. With all those unpredictable twists and turn's it really is impossible to see more than several steps ahead of you. And even more impossible to guess where those steps are taking you.
We all know the end of the road. Where it eventually leads. But it's when I am asked to think about the in between that I come upon a block.
Back to that picture. There are many things I would love to happen in the next 5 years. And so I have taken my pencil and put some very rough and vague sketches of my planned life next to all the parts of the picture that are already painted. Here I might paint a location, or a person standing next to me. But that person has no face, no distinguishing features. There are loving hands all around me but I can't make out any other features. And that's all just in the immediate vicinity of the tiny square that is my present. The majority of the big picture is empty canvas. Barren. Terrifying.
Don't get my wrong. I know that we all need to keep the big picture close. Take it out every once in a while and try to fill in that blank space. We need to keep our eyes glued to that road so that we don't make any wrong turns. But when you ask me where I see myself in 5 years, don't expect much. I don't have a pair of 5 year glasses. When I try to look that far ahead I am blind. Filled only with vague ambitions and hopes. I'm living in the present and focusing on that small picture that is the year 2011.
Check back with me in 5 years and I'll tell you what I am doing. Otherwise, expect me to make up something that sounds good because that's what I'll do.
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- On The Big Picture
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