Circle of Consciousness
/ Author: Eric Nederlof
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Circle of Consciousness

By Eric Nederlof, CLAC Representative

I remember a time back in my track-running days in university when—as I was in this particular race’s final 200 metres and pushing hard to catch up to the lead pack—I noticed my field of vision begin to shrink down to a pinhole as my body responded to being pushed too hard and was shutting down systems to continue to feed oxygen to my muscles.

I had a choice to slow down and allow my brain to get more oxygen, or keep pushing until I lost consciousness. I wisely chose to avoid losing consciousness and pulled back on the throttle. My full field of vision returned in time to fully witness all the runners ahead of me cross the finish line, but at least I could keep running too and finish the race.

Our consciousness in life works in a similar way. When life is good—work is plentiful, family life is great, health is good, people are able to look and see far afield and have interest, input, and opinions on a wide variety of topics from climate change, to what’s (still) wrong with the Oilers, and why the Stampeders and Flames are so good.

However, when life hits us with hard knocks and sends us for a loop, what we see as important to us shrinks dramatically in direct proportion to the threat of the knock experienced. Events such as the loss of a job in a shrinking job market, a heart attack or cancer diagnosis, or the death of a loved one all have major impacts on us, shrinking our circle of consciousness to a pinhole. 

If something in your life is sucking all your energy, brain power, and resources to cope with it, then it needs to be addressed or you risk not being able to function at all. You may be able to make changes in your life yourself—like slowing down a little in a race. But it may mean you need help to face a permanent, life-altering change, like training for a new career, adopting a more health-conscious diet and exercise regimen, or seeking professional physical or psychological help.

Be alert to the challenges you will face and the warning signs that come up when life is about to “knock you out.” Be prepared to do something about it yourself or know when and how to seek the help you need in coping with it.

Who knows—with the proper preparation and adjustments, in the next race I could have been fighting for the win instead of fighting for my consciousness.

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