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the next sixty feet

June 10, 2014

Winter road by Scoo, creative commons licensed.Even though we are driving at night and can only see the next sixty feet, we live our lives as though we know what the next sixty miles are going to be like.

In this life sixty feet is all you really get to see. If you think you can see more than that you are deceiving yourself.  Talking to anyone who says they can predict the future based on the past is like talking to a turkey in the week before Thanksgiving.

Only being able to see sixty feet ahead is OK though. You can drive from LA all the way to New York at night, only being able to see the next sixty feet in the headlights. You don’t need to see any more than that. Right?

And they say while you can never be sure what is beyond the edge of the lights you can get just about anywhere if you are able to stay present and deal with whatever it is that you can see.

It is something I am experiencing groundhog day style on stage at the moment. Four times a week I have hours when I have no idea what is beyond the words I am listening to and when I have no idea what to say next or what I will say next. Being in front of an audience of a couple of hundred people can make it more than just a little frightening. But when a signpost comes into view I know that this is the point where it is my role to take us down the left turn to explore a side road for a while.

And I do (mostly).

Where I can get us into trouble is if I am worried about what is beyond the lights. Thinking too far ahead about that bit at the end of the scene that didn’t go quite right the last time or why that little old lady sitting out there beyond the lights can’t open her mints just a little more quietly… and then we blow straight by the signpost and the left hand turn and we have to take all manner of back streets and u-turns and sometimes travel over the same section of road again to get us where we need to be.

And as life imitates art, my real life is feeling a bit like that at the moment as well. In these uncertain times I know I am not the only one feeling this way. I am fighting the urge to worry about what is going to happen too far ahead, to plan for what might be out of view and to obsessively look in the rear view mirror at what I might have done wrong or right yesterday.

I keep telling myself – all you can do is just keep driving, be present and deal as best you can with the stuff you can see coming in the next sixty feet.

Some days it does the trick. Other days it is not enough.

So what I want to know is how are you dealing with the uncertainty of life at the moment? Got any tips that might help the rest of us who are white-knuckled on the steering wheel and out on the road with you?


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One Comment leave one →
  1. June 15, 2014 2:55 pm

    Thank you for this Paul – I feel the same way at the moment and often find myself taking the wrong turn on the motorway because my mind is in overdrive; worrying, thinking and planning. Tips ? Staying in the moment works well if you can do it but is often hard to do with so much going on. Deep breathing and centring my body also works to calm my mind and allows me to focus on what needs to be done. I find it helps me to focus on the things I can control rather than worry about things that I can’t. I also like to feel ready to tackle what life throws at me and feel calmer when the rest of my life is running smoothly, is organised and tidy. You can often find me organising my sock drawer when I feel particularly concerned about the future, much to the bemusement of my partner.

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