It’s Okay to Step Back

Have you ever smashed your face against a mirror and tried to look at yourself?  If you haven’t, then you’re just gonna have to trust me when I say…you can’t see much more than a huge noise and one giant eye.  It’s kinda creepy.

Or, have you ever looked through the peephole of a hotel door?  Ya know, like when you don’t believe that the 8AM tap tap tap and “Housekeeping!”  scream could possibly be legit.  Also creepy.  The only thing you can see through those peepholes are huge heads and stick-figure bodies.  

When you get too close to something or look out through a tiny hole, it’s hard to see clearly.  I know.  It happened to me.  Not with a mirror.  Or a peephole.  It happened with life.  For nearly a year, I looked at the world like this….

There was something right in front of me…forcing my eyes to look through a tiny distorted opening.  My view was constrained.  I wasn’t seeing life’s totality.  Whatever the something was…it was too close. 

Then, I took a step back.  That one step was a difficult one to take, but it allowed the something to be identified.  Whew!  Metaphorically let’s call it a leaf.  Practically, let’s call it an issue, a problem, a situation, or a crisis.  My something was the Grave Truth that I talked about in the post tiled Graves and Phantoms.  My mom’s illness.

Once I identified the something that was constraining my view, happiness was sure to instantaneously return.  Wasn’t it?  Unfortunately, it didn’t.  Seeing through it, around it, or past it wasn’t easy.  The something was finally clear, but everything else became a blur.  Ugh! 

Recently, I took another step back.  This time I had the help of friends and family to give me a backwards shove.  The something (my mom’s illness) was still directly in front of me, but I could now see clearly around its edges to the world beyond. 

Then…it happened.  I took a giant step back.  The something is still there.  My mom is still sick.  Her care is still very important.  But, it is no longer constraining, altering, or totally blocking my view.  In fact, I can finally see how the something is contributing to the beauty that surrounds it.  My family is closer than we have ever been.  I’ve witnessed levels of compassion that I didn’t know were possible.  Life is valued as precious gift…and I better get out there and make the most of it.

If there is an issue, problem, crisis, or situation in your life that you need to take a step back from, it’s okay to do so.  I’m not saying to step away.  I’m suggesting that you step back.  There’s a big difference between stepping away and stepping back.  If you don’t allow yourself to step back, it will be impossible to see life clearly and put your something into context.  

Was there ever a time when you needed to step back from something in order to appreciate its beauty in your life?  Did you?  What was the result? 

If you liked this post, you may also like The Long View.

So, the answer to Wednesday’s Brain Strain question is:  Leaves on the ground, looking through the hole of a leaf.

6 responses to this post.

  1. You’ve hit on something so important here. I’m talking in the grand scheme of things and also personally for your readers too. You know what’s going on in my life these days and I’m going to send a link to this post to my mom.
    I’m glad you can step back now and again. It’s essential.


  2. Posted by suzicate on November 19, 2010 at 4:26 pm

    Taking a step back certainly helps, but it’s a real difficulty allowing ourselves (guilt) to do so. There is much wisdom in this post…thank you.


    • I think a little bit of guilt is only natural. Avoiding regret is another matter. I’m trying hard not to step back (or away) to the point that I’ll have regrets. Thanks so much for bringing this up – very good point.


  3. Oh my goodness what a fabulous post. I love the metaphors you use. Sometimes we do have to almost step outside of ourselves to really see our needs and help ourselves.


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