The Periphery

The Periphery

A Trip Down Memory Lane

I remember, when I was a kid, learning to drive on back country roads with my Dad. I sat in his lap and he would let me assist in steering the wheel of his car. It was hard to know where to look when driving. I focused on the edge of the car where I could just barely see over the hood of that rusted ole' white Taurus station wagon. That edge is where the action was happening! Those dotted lines in the center of the road were so fascinating to me. I couldn't believe how quickly they would disappear underneath the car, almost like lasers in Star Wars! I was awful at steering. "Where do you look when you're driving down the road?," I tensely pondered aloud after having to forfeit pilot status. I crawled back over to co-pilot as my dad said, "Everywhere. Eyes forward down the road yet relaxed."


It was years before I understood what my Dad meant in his driving instructions. When we're relaxed, we are more aware. We see more of the whole picture. Awareness is one of the most important aspects of learning. In Speer's Arithmetic's by William Speer (1896), a fascinating book for teaching math to children, Mr. Speer states, "Force a child to preserve a regulative attitude, to keep his nerves tense, and you destroy the foundation of healthful mental activity." The student that is tense, learns nothing. Why weren't my teachers using that book when I was first learning math?!

When we take on a new task or drive a road we've never been down before, the natural inclination is to tense up. We do not know where the danger lies. Therefore, we cannot keep our minds from tensing nor our eyes from squinting. This is the exact opposite of what's required for best navigating toward a goal. It seems there is so much pressure to reach goals, to get to our destination, to have the correct answer that we don't observe what lies on the periphery. Thus, we have so many car accidents and decimated deer. The periphery, the edge, is nearly as important as the destination.

"Life takes place on the edges."
- William Bond (Strand Farm Permaculture Consultant)

Opportunity Lives in the Periphery

The periphery presents many opportunities. Awareness of it while driving will allow you to avoid hitting a deer or be hit by a car. Snow in the ditch may indicate ice on the road. A road sign will tell you where fuel, food, or rest can be found. Awareness of the periphery works in the same fashion when we're working towards a personal goal. Economic conditions on one side of the globe can indicate when to buy or sell an asset. Alterations in national and state curriculums may help you figure out where to seek education for your children. Modifications in the conduction of scientific rigor may inform you where or where not to seek medical advice. There's a ton of opportunity presented in the periphery. However, a focus on the periphery could lead to your destruction.

Keep the Periphery at the Periphery

They call it the periphery for a reason. If you stare at the majestic 10-point buck that is milling around on the passenger side of the road, you're setting yourself up for smashing the doe getting ready to bolt across from the driver side. If you take every McDonalds exit, physical health problems may be in your near future. The same rings true for pouring all of your mental efforts into a crisis taking place on the other side of the globe or even release dates for the next popular NFT project. A focus on the periphery may keep you from achieving your goals or even take you off your path and into the ditch. Do not lose track of the whole. See the forest and the tree. Keep the periphery at the periphery and you just might find yourself totally free!

I wish for smooth, relaxed, and fully aware driving to you my friends. Until next time, Cheers!