Looking Isn’t Seeing: The Forest For The Trees

I want to share an ‘awakening’ I had a few days ago. It was a moment of seeing the forest, and not remaining lost for the trees.

I live in a little bedroom community. This community has an old heritage building that is a central and prominent feature; and it is beautiful. I walk the dog past it often. Similarly, I make a point of passing by it to walk into town. Sometimes I just go and sit by it.

I was doing dishes the other day. The kitchen sink looks out into the backyard. I prefer to do dishes by hand and enjoy a calm that comes as a result of my hands being warmed by the water. Also, it is one of those tasks I get immense satisfaction from doing; where dirt gives way completely to cleanliness. There is a certain finality to it; an immediate acknowledgement in the finishing of a job well done.

There I was doing the dishes. Looking out into the backyard. The usual suspects were noted; the fire pit, the massive oak that in the summer cradles our hammock, and the neighbour’s yard (and their current renovations). Looking past those proximate features, and to the next horizon, I took note of the street beyond, the next neighbour’s house, and most notably, the trees of the little park in behind.

Then it struck me, Is that the old heritage building? Are you kidding me?

I’ve been looking out this window for years. I have studied and enjoyed this view countless times. Now, for the first time, despite looking at this scene daily, I see the town’s main feature; and it is visible from my kitchen window! Incredible. Looking without seeing.

There is a metaphor for life in here for certain. Can’t see the forest for the trees comes to mind- missing the entirety of a situation as a result of a preoccupation on the details. Maybe its just a general torpidity, or laziness. Maybe instead it’s a matter of looking ‘deeper.’ Or perhaps rather, it is about looking, and seeing from a new, or different perspective. Regardless, I was taken aback.

I had been overlooking a gem, and only with a slightly different lens did I take note of such a beautiful sight. It was very much like finally seeing one of those images inside an image in those colour-blindness tests.

Likewise, it could also be a metaphor for change, and the wonders of winter and the seasons, which I love so much. It is very likely that this view doesn’t exist in the summer as a result of the foliage of that little park, which would obstruct this view.

It is remarkable to me that these subtle shifts, these nuanced perspectives, can have such impact. What was one moment a familiar scene, became instantly a moment of awakening. What else have I not been seeing despite a steady stare. Maybe, just maybe, this is a by-product of my life planning and current Happiness Project efforts. Regardless, my eyes are now open.

With this I will sign off and bid adieu. Here’s to keeping an open mind, and to considering your surroundings, or perhaps your circumstances, from new and different perspectives.

Have a great Sunday.