Sometimes it's hard to concentrate on one thing when you are doing about 20 things at once. Other times you get zoned in on one thing and only that one thing.
I've had both phenomenons happen to me quite often over the last five years as sports editor of the Hood River News.
This last weekend, for instance, at the state track meet in Eugene I was attempting to take video and photos and put up live blog entries at the same time, all the while trying to pay attention to the actual race.
For every race I would zoom my camera in on the Hood River Valley competitor and start snapping photos. I honestly had no idea what was happening around them. All that I was focused on was the one runner and what I could see through my camera viewfinder. I could hear the race announcer's voice booming over the PA, but the words had no impact on me.
It's what the military calls target fixation. I was so zoned in on what was happening in one spot directly in front of me, I had no idea what else was happening. When the race ended I actually had to look up at the scoreboard to see who had actually won.
I honestly only realized Ian McNaughton had won his 400-meter title after he finished, when I saw his smile and saw his time go up first on the scoreboard.
In the moments after the race I could take a minute to look back over the big picture, looking up his time to see if he had broken his own school record from the day before (he had) and then ask him about it.
In sports, as in life, everything is a mixture of balance, little picture and big picture, and sometimes you get so caught up in looking at the little picture right in front of you, you fail to take a step back.
For instance, over the last four years, while I have covered hundreds of games in the Gorge, my younger sister has been playing high school tennis in my home town.
In the last four years I've seen her play once. Now she was just named most valuable player of her team following her senior season.
In four years of looking at the small picture of what was right in front of me, I never took time to see the big picture that she was growing up and growing ever closer to graduation.
And now that moment is upon us. Next month she'll be donning her cap and gown.
It's a little crazy seeing her grow up in a heartbeat and feeling like I missed a big chunk of it.
When I first came to the Hood River News, I was fresh out of college; she wasn't even in high school. Five years later she's graduating and I have learned everything from shooting photos to updating a website.
It has been wonderful watching the kids I have covered in that time grow up and go on to great things, and I'm sure she is going to do the same (if not better; seeing as she is my sister, after all).
There's not a whole lot I can do about it now, other than take a step back and see the big picture of what a great young adult she has become.
As she grows up, I can only hope she is better than me at remembering to keep a balance between the big picture and the small picture.
I've been trying to get better at it, and I've been looking at the bigger picture both in terms of my own life and the needs of the Hood River News going forward.
The big change is that in a few weeks I will no longer be sports editor of the Hood River News. Now don't cry (or go jumping for joy) yet; I'm not going away entirely. You'll still likely have to deal with me on the sidelines now and again.
I'll be moving into a new role as a primary multimedia producer for the Hood River News, managing our website and enhancing our print coverage.
Things will be different around here, I'm sure, as soon as the paper hires a new sports reporter.
No matter what I'm doing, though, I'll try to be better about taking in the whole picture, both little and big.