I ran with my eyes closed the other day. Yep! Just for a few feet, but it seemed like a mile. The parking lot I was jogging through was empty — no cars or cats to bump into. I had absolutely no reason to be afraid to close my eyes for a few strides, yet, I was terrified. Pounding the pavement blind felt as if I could step into an abyss any moment, never to be heard from again.
I assured myself that I was safe, that there was no danger in front of me, that I had just peeked and knew that my path was clear, but knowing this failed to translate into confidence in my brain. I still felt like each step was a step closer to injury or even to my demise.
Not being able to see what is ahead can paralyze us or propel us toward the direction in which we wish to proceed. When we know what we want, have a vision for our future, but aren’t sure how we are going to attain the goal, the belief that we are safe is often not enough — it’s insufficient and fails to provide the feeling of security we need to proceed toward our dreams.
Conversely, the fear of seeing what we want can be as debilitating to our personal growth as having no vision at all. Take, for instance, Peter, who beheld Jesus standing on the water several yards from him. The disciple desired to join Jesus, took several steps with Jesus in clear view, yet the moment Peter felt insecure and incapable of reaching his goal, he began sinking. His doubt in his ability to do what he was already doing preceded the action and created the failure.
Perhaps we could learn from the approach many horse jockeys employ. Race horses are often fitted with blinders to help them focus on the course ahead. Horses have eyes at the sides of their heads and the limited vision afforded by the blinders encourages them to take chances they wouldn’t normally take, to run faster than being able to see the entire scene — the stands full of cheering fans — the track passing beneath their hooves — the other horses planking either side.
Like these race horses, we may benefit from seeing less of the distractions around us and feeling more of the innate confidence that we were born to cultivate. Sometimes we need to accept that we don’t need to see the big picture. We don’t need to see who will cross over the finish line first. We just need to run the race the best we can, with heads held high and with hope in our hearts.
Sometimes moving forward wearing blinders is the best way to make our way to the light — to the pinnacle of our desire. Blinders limit our view while allowing us to keep our eyes on the prize and, most importantly, our faith in ourselves.
I can just imagine the stares I’d get should I jog the boulevard donning blinders on my head. But I can — and will — apply the principal of focusing softly on what lies before me on my path. I just hope I miss the pigeon poop.
Michele Zirkle Marcum is a native of Meigs County, Ohio, author of “Rain No Evil” and host of Life Speaks on AIR radio. She can be reached at email@example.com.