The pilot warned me that I might get tunnel vision.
I was in the backseat of an FA-18 Hornet fighter jet being flown by a U.S. Navy Blue Angels pilot and we were going straight up into a blue sky – and gaining speed.
He told me to let him know if my vision started to narrow, as that was a sign I was going to pass out. Well it did, and I let him know. He leveled the plane and the feeling passed.
But boy, what a feeling.
Flying with the Blue Angels was a dream come true for a kid who grew up in a town with a Marine Corps Air Station and who also served in the U.S. Air Force.
But that moment of tunnel vision has stuck with me as a metaphor for life and how we view it.
Like most people when they are young, I certainly had a form of tunnel vision. I only focused on the things that were right in front of me and always thought about forward momentum and little else.
Living in the moment, they call it. Looking back, I call it limited living.
The next weekend. The next job. The next move to a new state. The next new friend who would eventually fall out of my life.
The next, the next, the next.
I know I am not alone in the way I approached life as a younger person, and even as a younger adult. I had blinders on and had my sights on a tiny sliver of life. Other people might wander in and out of my field of vision, but they were not my real focus.
That began to change for me at about the age of 30. Like a lot of people, especially men, 30 hit me pretty hard. By 30, you are not quite a young person anymore and you are expected to be a grown up. I had a 3-year-old son and my daughter was born less than a month after I turned 30.
That certainly broadened my view some as I had a lot more in my life to focus on.
Still, I did keep driving ahead, and while my vision was a little broader, it was still fairly narrow.
Over the years that field of vision has continued to increase – one of the joys of aging. Yes, I would say I am certainly smarter than I was, but it is more than that. I am now much more aware of the people and things around me. I am more aware of my place in any given moment.
Most of us, I am sure, understand this reality as we age. We don’t really think that much about it as it is just something that occurs naturally.
I now often think about the world and my place in it in a much broader sense. When I look ahead, I can see a broad horizon, not just a narrow field of vision that directly ahead.
Being smarter and more observant comes with some pitfalls, of course. It is much harder to deal with dumb people, to be frank. I wouldn’t say that having a greater vision has necessarily made me more patient.
I guess we can’t change who we are at our core.
Life is a great adventure, and being able to take in much more of it as I age has been a wonderful gift. Make sure to enjoy yours as much as you can. One thing we all realize is that it doesn’t last forever.