The Importance of Focus

_CES9385Late yesterday afternoon I had a little free time so I drove over to John James Audubon State Park, about five miles from where I am currently living.  There has been very little evidence of fall foliage in town but I wanted to go to the park to scout it a bit, thinking ahead to when the colors do get good.  I was pleasantly surprised to find isolated patches of color in the trees around one of the park’s lakes.  I took a few pictures, hiked a couple of the trails and then went home.  I posted four pictures I had just taken on Facebook and then left to go teach my Tuesday night Bible study class.

_CES9375When I got home later in the evening I saw where a number of people had “liked” my images on Facebook but what surprised me was the number of comments that accompanied them.  People talked about the beautiful colors and one indicated that the image captured “fall” for him.  I was amused by the comments because there was actually very little color in the park.  I would estimate that the foliage was only around 15% peaked and that was just at the lake.  I hiked two or three miles and saw almost no fall colors at all in the woods.

_CES9369The experience has made me think some today.  By focusing on just a handful of trees I was able to compose images that gave the impression that fall was in full swing here.  People were excited by what they saw while I went home disappointed that we didn’t have more fall colors right now.  Now admittedly, others only saw what I showed them through my lens.  They didn’t see as I did that almost all the other trees were still green. Still, I have to ask myself why I didn’t focus more on the beauty at hand.  This reminds me in a roundabout way that what we focus on in life is very important.  I had made a conscious effort to focus on the beauty in a few trees with my camera but my mind seemed to be more focused on the lack of color elsewhere.  It is apparent now that my focus or attitude should have been different.  I should have been more grateful for what I did see instead of bemoaning what I didn’t.

This is something I, and a lot of other people, struggle with in other areas of life.  We tend to dwell more on what we don’t have instead of what we already d0 have.  This robs a person of much peace and joy.  It creates discontentment when that is not necessary.   All of this hits close to home—literally.  My wife and I still haven’t sold our house in eastern Kentucky so we have been living in temporary housing for the past few months.  It’s a small duplex and we are using borrowed furniture.  Over 80% of what we own is five and a half hours away.  This has created a lot of inconveniences and I will confess that it has bothered me greatly.  I find myself often dwelling on what I don’t have or what I’m missing.  The more I dwell on it the more depressed I become.

_CES9383I’m not sure that I will ever like living in this setting but I have come to realize that I will be much better off if I will focus on the good in my life, that which I have, instead of that which I’m missing.  I still have my wonderful wife with me and our beloved dog.  I don’t have all of my books and music here but I have a lot of my favorites with me.  Unlike a lot of other people, I have a roof over my head, a warm bed to sleep in, plenty of clothes and cabinets filled with food.  In other words, I am richly blessed.

I have certainly been reminded that I need to work on my focus, not just in photography but in every area of my life.  I hope one day I can get to the point where I can say with the apostle Paul, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.”  (Philippians 4:11)  That sure would be nice.


(The pictures shown above are the ones I took at John James Audubon State Park yesterday.)