I tripped and fell in the parking lot as I was going home from an event one evening last week. I didn’t break any bones or have any significant injuries, but as I hit the pavement I felt immediate pain in my left hand and wrist, and in both knees. It was mild enough that one of my first thoughts wasn’t about how badly I might be hurt, but about the fact that I probably tore a few holes in my favorite pair of dressy slacks. (I didn’t, by the way, although both of my knees got a bit bruised and bloody.)

Once I got back on my feet, I took a few moments to steady myself and make sure I was okay. Then I got in my car and drove home.

As I did, I relived the incident and tried to assess the situation – figure out exactly what happened, and why. I wasn’t wearing high heels, I wasn’t drinking anything stronger than water, and I wasn’t rushing out after the event or dealing with sloppy or slippery weather conditions. I was just looking up ahead to where my car was parked, and I tripped on something that was on the ground right in front of me.

And now, a few days later, it has occurred to me how often I do that – in many ways, and in many areas of my life. I look ahead to what’s coming in the far distant future, while being oblivious – or simply neglectful – of obstacles that are in front of me right here and now.

Not that there’s anything wrong with looking ahead, of course. On the contrary, planning and preparing for the future is a smart and strategic thing to do. It helps us to set and achieve goals, and it increases our chances of success, no matter what it is we’re doing.

But looking ahead won’t help us if we ignore or neglect what we need to do and be aware of right now. If we’re looking ahead to being a star performer in our chosen field, we need to be putting in the hours – right now – at the office, the lab, the studio, or the skating rink. If we’re looking forward to a healthy and active lifestyle in our later years, we need to pay attention to what we eat and drink, and how much we’re exercising today. And if we’re looking ahead to success in any area of our lives, we need to see and overcome whatever small obstacles are right in front of us. We need to live the kind of life now that will eventually take us where we want to go.

Although I’m still a little sore from the “trip” I took last week, I’m not going to let it keep me from looking ahead to see where I’m going. But I am going to pay closer attention to my immediate surroundings, so I don’t let little things right in front of me keep me from getting there.

The column “Find Your Buried Treasure” appears weekly in the Chanhassen (MN) Villager. This column was published on May 7, 2015.
©Betty Liedtke, 2015

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