When moving through the forest, they can turn you around, block your view or hide your path. Some trees (or even a specific branch or a specific leaf on a specific tree) can become so distracting that you get off track and forget the original purpose of the journey.
Of course it can be hard not to get lost in the moment. Whether it is in parenting when your child is not doing what they are told or with your partner who is running late again or possibly, most glaringly, in confrontational situations with people you don’t feel connected to – think comment sections digressing into long debates over whether one tree is tall enough or the right species or should be chopped down or is Obama’s fault.
When you are not in a good place you can get distracted from the big picture – shaming your child, forgetting how good your partner is in other ways, or that the point of the article was a tribute to fatherhood – not Obama’s tax plan (true story).
But not losing sight of the big stuff when you are dealing with the little stuff is an art. It requires a strong inner compass that guides you so that your thoughts, words and actions do not go off course. It also requires setting a good course to begin with.
It requires that, in the moment, you remember that your child is 3 and that you love them; that your partner is more that this one flaw; that the issues the world is facing will not be solved by your ego, angst, anger or nasty comments. And that you actually do care about solving the issues of the world.
At some point I hope we learn this art. As parents caring about our kids, as partners in love, as humans on this planet. It starts with appreciating that people and trees have value and valuable points to make – even if labeled as republicans, liberals, democrats, conservatives, business owners, gun owners, gun control advocates or those working hard to keep a roof over their heads – but that there is more than one person, one tree, or one point to creating a forest.
Of course, the forest can’t be located on the outskirts of crazy town. And we need to drop the righteousness, and add adjectives like ‘reasonable’, ‘responsible’ or, in the case of commentors, ‘rational and respectful’ to create a flourishing ecosystem. But you get the idea.
Don’t forsake the forest for the trees. That’s the wisdom we need to remember.
I vote we start now. Solutions to happier families and the world’s challenges are too important and can’t withstand much more of our overly-reactive, self-serving, or small-minded narratives.
We need to take a step back and see the bigger picture. Or the biggest picture which is that all of our roots are in the same soil here people.
Let’s start getting this right. Each person can and really must do their part. Whether you are raising your little family or educating a student body, whether you are a big voice in the boardroom, on the hill or over the airways, or a single voice in the workplace, the voting booth or the comment section – set the tone, set the course, see the forest.