Tunnel Vision

Lately, I’ve had a hard time finding motivation and inspiration to do, well, anything. Really. I’ve tried writing new music but nothing is coming out. I’ve tried getting back into exercising but haven’t made it past two days in a row (and even that’s stretching the truth a bit). I haven’t been eating healthy. I’ve had a few good practice days recently with my bass, but nothing consistent. I haven’t really been answering emails or promoting myself or my business, making new videos or podcasting, writing blogs or ANY of the things that I like to do.

It’s funny how a traumatic experience like cancer can shake your world so hard that you forget how to be yourself again. You almost feel like you’re not supposed to be you, or that you’re not allowed to yet. You find yourself saying things (to yourself) like I don’t deserve to be healthy if she’s not, or Why should I be allowed to be happy right now? or even What if this is the last time I’ll see her? Everything gets so convoluted and frustrating and scary that the easiest option is to do nothing.

Now, there’s a problem with doing nothing – none of those questions go away, and the self-deprecation, loathing, pity and despair don’t go away either. And beyond that, they all add up! They’re like a villainous league of Anti-Avengers that get stronger the more that you let them pile up. And what’s even worse is that they begin to crowd around the “smaller” things, making them even harder to deal with so you just ignore them too. Things like cleaning up the living room, restringing your bass, buying groceries, taking care of yourself… The big heavy stuff starts to weigh you down so much that you allow the small things to weigh you down too. And so the pile grows.

Now, let me say that my wife is doing fine, things are great with her at the moment and we’re almost out of the woods with this whole scenario. But still, I can’t shake it. The past 5 months continue to loom over my field of vision and make it impossible to see not only the light at the end of the tunnel, but also where I’m currently standing!

Tunnel Vision = the Bane of my existence.

I’ve been so focused on the events of the past few months that I’ve missed so much that’s happening around me, and although I’d love to blame cancer for that, my wrestling match with Tunnel Vision has always been there to some extent. I’ve always had a hard time with the “small” things when something big is happening in my life (not necessarily the life-threatening stuff).

For instance, when I’m working on a record I don’t sleep much. Or eat. Or shower. Or shave. I turn into a caveman with one goal: finish the task at hand. When I’m writing a book I don’t go out and hang with friends, or go to the movies, or invite family over for dinner. I edit, and paraphrase, and delete and then edit some more.

Surely I’m exaggerating to an extent here, but it really does feel like I focus so hard on the task at hand that Real Life has a tendency to evade me. It’s something that I struggle with, no doubt, but the remedy is quite simple; start with the small things and don’t sweat the things you have no control over. If you’re at all like me then pay attention:

Wake up in the morning and make your bed. Seriously, make that the first thing you do. A Navy Seal once told me that if you make your bed (and make it perfectly) every morning, then you’ve achieved perfection already, and you’ve only been awake for 5 minutes! Make breakfast. Eat it. Answer the emails from last night, read a page of that book you’ve been working through for years, or play that bass of yours. Get it out of the way early in the day, before the rest of Life’s worries remind you that there’s not enough time in the day. Take care of the small things and don’t worry about the big stuff (they have a tendency of taking care of themselves, anyways).

Funny thing is, I know all of these things, and when I do them I’m SO happy and SO successful with my time. I love accomplishing things, but sometimes I let myself get in the way of my own success. So, I’m not sure what you’ll do with all of that or how it applies to you. Just know that living in a Tunnel is no way to go through life. Look around you and try to see the big picture as often as you can.

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