Have you ever been so spellbound by a scene that everything else in your surroundings totally disappears? Something like Tunnel Vision? That’s what happened to us when we stepped foot in the old city of Venice, Italy last Tuesday.
A Sense of Direction
In general I have a lousy sense of direction. I’ve lost my way in every city I’ve been. In fact I even landed up in the wrong country once…while driving between cities in Holland I took the wrong turn and crossed the border into Germany… 🙄 In the end I usually get to my destination B”H; after all I wrote this post from home and not lost in Europe… 🙂
That wasn’t the case in Venice. We were staying outside of the old city to keep hotel costs down and took the tram over a very long bridge into the main tourist area. It was the first moment of setting foot on Piazzale Roma and staring at the view of the canals, the boats and the old buildings that did it. I was absolutely enthralled by the view (of course the Land of Israel is much more beautiful, but Venice can take a 2nd or 3rd place…).
For the next 7-8 hours we walked the streets, absorbed the sights and enjoyed every moment (even though it rained non-stop most of the day). It was on the way back to Piazzale Roma in the evening that I realized how much I was “suffering” from tunnel vision.
Just 200 meters from our tram stop we passed a central train station and shopping center which was on our right side. For a moment we were positive that we had taken the wrong direction because we definitely hadn’t passed a train station and mall on the way in (on our left). After a few moments of confusion we discovered some familiar land mark from the way in and realized a simple truth. I had been so focused on my first sight of the canals on my right that an entire shopping center disappeared from my left!
To me this is an important point in life. We are often so focused on one thing that catches our attention that we totally ignore everything and everyone else in the surroundings.
This reminds me of a famous story:
Hearing the Cry of a Baby
The founder of Chabad, Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, known as the Ba’al Ha-Tanya, was studying Torah in the end room of a railroad flat. Two rooms away there was a baby sleeping. In the middle room, his grandson, the Tzemach Tzedek, was learning. Suddenly, the Ba’al Ha-tanya, heard the baby cry. The elder rebbe rose from his studying, passed through the room where his grandson was studying, and went to the next room to soothe the baby to sleep. Meanwhile, his grandson was too involved in his studies to notice the baby crying. On returning to his room, the Ba’al Ha-Tanya told his grandson to stop learning. He proclaimed, “If someone is studying Torah and fails to hear a baby’s cry, there is something very wrong with his learning.”
It’s natural when visiting a new city to only notice a small part of it. That’s why it’s good to return. When I’m again in Venice I’ll discover many new things that were there all along, but out of my focus. Nevertheless in “real” life one has to make an effort to focus on the important stuff and not only what catches our attention at the moment.