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Trading focus for a new perspective

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By Robert Villanueva

My puppy bit me last week.

Nothing major. Zorro probably didn’t even realize he had bitten me.

But he drew a little blood and I found I was infinitely more aware of the wound than he was.

We were just playing a game with his chewstick, which starts out when he grabs it with his teeth and flips it up in the air near me. I’m supposed to snatch it and hold it as he attacks and pulls at it for a few moments before tossing it for him to retrieve, starting the process again.

One of the times he attacked the chewstick as I was holding it, it wasn’t just the chewstick he attacked. He got the tip of my left thumb in the bargain.

I shouted something, probably including an expletive, but Zorro didn’t seem to notice. He just continued to play with his treat as my very lifeforce gushed from my thumb.

OK. Maybe not so much.

But the incident reinforced something I already knew: Puppies can be so focused so as to be myopic.

On so many occasions, I’ve noticed Zorro so engrossed in the activity at hand that everything else faded from his view. That kind of focus is admirable and dangerous.

Admirable because there’s a certain amount of determination in the type of focus that relegates everything except what’s being focused on to the status of virtual nonexistence. Dangerous because those things relegated to the status of virtual nonexistence actually can sneak up on you when you least expect it.

I think a lot of people get that way sometimes, including me. But more often than not, the focus for me is not so much on a task as it is on my own little world.

I’ve often heard the phrase, “How are things going in your world?” I’ve used that phrase a few times myself.

It designates and recognizes the scope of the lives around us in some ways.

Often it is hard to step outside my own little world. There are so many things that affect my daily responsibilities that sometimes, if not most of the time, it is necessary to focus and stay in that world.

Still, I think that’s admirable and dangerous.

Taking care of things that need attention is important, but limiting my perspective to my own vantage point is dangerous.

I try to walk that fine line between the two because in-between those two areas are where important things happen.

A lot can be learned from stepping outside my world and comfort zone and looking at things from a different perspective. And I value that experience.

On the other hand, I recognize the importance of keeping myself on task when it comes to my responsibilities. That’s just part of life.

The thing is, I think I spend the larger part of my day doing the latter rather than the former. Even when I have to multi-task, the focus is on taking care of my daily or regular obligations.

Those times I allow myself to step away from my own little world and gain new perspective seem to be increasing, though.

This has come in the form of volunteering, but also in simply helping others in whatever way I can. Helping others puts me in a whole different vantage point, and it makes me look at things beyond my own world.

While that area isn’t new to me, it has been more and more frequent and ultimately rewarding.

Maybe the time has to be right for each person to step outside their world.

Maybe we are each like puppies playing with chewsticks on most days so we can better appreciate those days when we see the things beyond our worlds.

Robert Villanueva can be reached at 270-505-1743 or rvillanueva@thenewsenterprise.com.