We zoom in to enlarge the font on our computer screens. We zoom in to find our homes on Google Earth. We zoom the view on our cameras; then we tweak our images to improve the picture.
We zoom to aid exploration and discovery, with our telescopes and our microscopes. Likewise, we zoom to ponder our behaviors and motivations, to gain insight into what we’re doing.
How, and why.
The close-up has its place and its utility. But does it necessarily provide a superior look, or even a meaningful one?
Who isn’t at least a little fixated on appearances? On the face we present to the world? Women, especially?
But are we focused on details that are insignificant, as we obsess over our deepening laugh lines, our latest dating profiles, last week’s remarks to a friend, our interpersonal styles?
Is this all so much self-sabotage? Self-protection so we don’t have to truly think – or feel – or address consequences?
We seem to agonize (and second guess ourselves) over everything these days. Certainly, in our core relationships, searching for underlying causes and effects in endless streams of he said, she said. At times it’s helpful. At others, maybe we should simply take a few steps back.
We examine our parenting – fretting over labels like helicopter parenting or attachment parenting – convinced that we’re not involved enough or possibly, too much, and most certainly, in the wrong way. We compare and contrast with other parents; we try harder, we try differently; we beat ourselves up.
There are choices over dates and boyfriends, the hot girl or the “good” one; selections of schools and activities, neighborhoods and housing units, carpet swatches and paint chips. And what about finances? Jobs? Vacation venues if we can afford them?
We zoom in, over and over, to degrees of dizzying detail that serves little point. We scrutinize, micromanage, discuss and deconstruct while focusing so tightly on our narrow view that we risk losing our orientation.
You know, the forest for the trees.
The big picture.
What we’re trying to accomplish.
I love an in-depth debate as much as anyone. I love to delve and dissect. But I hope that I do so within reason. And, with good reason. In a world where so much information (noise?) is available, where so many tools entice us, must we really autopsy each part of the patient while he is still alive? Must we dismember our relationships as they unfold? Must we applaud (or chastise) ourselves for each and every parenting maneuver?
A powerful lens has its place, but I am reminding myself to zoom out. Way out. In daily dealings with my sons, my neighbors, my friends, my expectations of myself, my tendency toward an unachievable perfectionism in – I will grant you – select areas. My own magnifying mirrors are many, but I hope I know when to tilt the surface around and say: no, this is not the image through which to assess.
- Do you know when to zoom in and zoom out?
- Do you think we have placed too much spotlight on the internal workings of relationships?
- Have we gone overboard in our dissection of parenting styles?