Part 3 of 3:
Longview is more than just a Green Day song.
My books are full of strong female characters. Some are strong from the beginning and have to find a way to use that strength to improve their circumstances. Others have lost their strength under the weight of life, all the stressful, bad things that happen to us as we move from childhood to adulthood. Or even from idealistic young adulthood to middle age. Our strength can get buried under the debris of "shit happens."
Finding our longview can help uncover our lost strength. I believe it's there in each of us, even if we haven't seen it in a long time. Most of us can identify at least one person who believed in us as kids, one person who saw what we might accomplish if we stayed the course. That was Part 1. Staying the course involves drive. Drive is vital to any kind of goal achievement. Drive is that voice at the end of the day, no matter our failures and shortcomings, that says, "It's okay. Try again tomorrow. And tomorrow after that." That was Part 2. Both those qualities only take us so far without the longview.
Longview is what keeps on course. Longview isn't so much picking one goal and sticking to it no matter what. We all know that things change. Life changes us, and sometimes we needed to be changed. We often don't realize it at the time, but many changes we weather end up being exactly what we need in order to become the people we were meant to be. Longview is simply believing that our future is bright. That our aspirations aren't for nothing, that there are several destinations along our journey and we WILL make it to the ones that reward us for our great efforts to get there.
This might sound pretty vague. Longview is looking forward, constantly moving forward, toward whatever it is we know we want--not some material, concrete thing, but a place in our life when we can look back, just for a moment, and realize that it was all worth it. Climbing out from underneath the obstacles that tried to crush our goals and dreams, continuing to focus on one thing. Just this: the life we imagined, as children, we could one day live. No specifics here. No "but I always wanted to be an astronaut." I'm talking about becoming the kind of person we want to be, no matter what profession, what role, what label we put on ourselves. As long as we possess the fortitude to do it, we should. How sad if we lose the ability to imagine that point in the future, lose the longview, and accept that this--this here and now, if it is not where we wish to stay--is our end destination, and that we are done trying to move forward toward a future we could once see.
I'll go back to Garth Stein's book, The Art of Racing in The Rain. Yes, I'm using a dog as my point of reference. Enzo knew what he wanted. He had Denny Swift, his person who believed in him. He had drive, that compelling need to work toward the future he wanted. And Enzo had the longview. He knew that somehow, some way, he would one day achieve his goal. He believed it wholeheartedly. Sure, Enzo had dark days, he got discouraged, just like every one of us. Those are moments. We can let them drown us, or we can see them for what they are: moments. Moments pass. And then we open our eyes and find that point in the future, one of our hallowed destinations, and we get back on course, moving forward once again. "Your car goes where your eyes go"--the lasting lesson I learned from Enzo, probably one of the greatest lessons in life (more on that in an earlier blog post).
A last thought: having the longview does not equate with being miserable in the here and now. The here and now is precious. The here and now, this spot in which we stand this very moment, used to be a bright point in our future that we were striving toward, even with the negatives that may come with it. We are here, now, living this moment. We must savor it. Embrace it. And look forward while we do.
Life is short. But life is also long, with so many opportunities to really live. We should never underestimate what we are capable of. What would be the point in that? I hope I never lose the longview, no matter how far down the road I get. After all, it's a vital tool I'll need for this journey that is life.