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“Look Around”

September 12, 2022
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I sat frozen in the chair unsure of what to expect. I had never done virtual reality anything before and I was slightly apprehensive, but my son insisted it was a must-do when we booked the trip to the space museum. I heard my son whisper from beside me, “you are going to love this” seconds before music started playing in my headphones. Suddenly images appeared before me full of launches and landings, all unbelievably realistic. I was living the countdown and watched the characters as they stepped foot on the moon. I sat facing forward, still as a statue, as I took in the brilliant images transforming before my eyes. With just seconds left in the experience, I turned my head slightly and gasped in surprise as I discovered there was an astronaut standing beside me.

The simulation ended as the reality of the last few moments hit me. There had been more? The entire time I had sat motionless with my head locked in one position as if I were watching a movie. Apparently, in virtual reality world, there is more happening than meets the eye. But because I didn’t look around, I missed all of it.

My first stop after leaving that room was to go buy another ticket to do it again. I had to go back and see what had been happening all around me while I had been staring straight forward. Let me tell you, it was a lot. There was nonstop activity above me and next to me and even behind me. There was so much to see, it was almost overwhelming. But I did my best to capture it all in the brief time I had.

Later that night, I sat in our hotel room and replayed all the fun things we had done that day. As I thought about my first experience with virtual reality, I realized it had been even more like reality than I had thought. I had forgotten to look around, and because of that I almost missed it all. Kind of like life. I started wondering how many days I had forgotten to look around. How many times had I missed the point while staring straight ahead?

How many times had I missed a friend that was hurting because I was too focused on what was wrong in front of me? How many moments of celebration did I miss as I worried about planning out my own wins? How many opportunities to see God’s grace come alive had passed right beside me as I sat frozen, unsure of what to expect in new territory.

It almost makes me wish I could run and buy another ticket. It makes me wish I had another chance to go back and look around.

But I don’t.

There is no replay. There is only this one chance. Only one chance to see what you were not looking for. Only one chance to help. Only one chance to comfort. Only one chance to share. Will I miss the opportunities to make a difference and the moments of joy that can be found all around me? I know I have already missed some. Now that is a tough reality.

Yes, when I start looking around and seeing what is really going on outside my bubble, it may be very overwhelming, but I must do my best to capture it in the brief time I have. I wasn’t called to stay frozen staring only at my view. I must gain the perspective from above me and next to me and even behind me. I must look around. Leave it to reality to teach me the hard way.

Shannon Leach is a slice-of-life encouragement writer and the owner of A Repurposed Heart and ARH Inspirations. Her authentic stories and books about leadership, life, and loving people focus on encouraging others and reminding them they are not alone. Her work can also be found in Guideposts and multiple Chicken Soup for the Soul books. She also holds a bachelor’s degree in Social Work and is the co-founder of the nonprofit The Fostered Gift.
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