Saturday, July 25, 2015

Inch Seventy-Three: Seeing the Forest For The Trees

There is the saying about not seeing the forest for the trees. Friday I smacked right up against it.

Out grocery shopping on a bright day (a rarity in this summer of rains), I turned into the parking lot of the second store, knowing I had eggs in the car from the first, knowing I only needed a few things from the second, and hoping for a scrap of shade somewhere in the vast expanses of asphalt.

There was a small island, with small trees, on a far side of the lot, and I saw a sliver of shade touching the forward slot of two.  Fixating on that, I drove over quickly and parked with a sliver of shade just reaching into the front seat of my car. Victory!

As I exited the car, I glanced at the slot behind me. The other tree in the island was shading a sizable portion of that parking space. I had not even noticed it in my haste to find shade, instead zeroing in on the first spot I saw. I jumped back in my car, put it in reverse, and moved the car into the more generous shade.

As I walked into the store, I thought of the adage about the forest and the trees. I thought about the opening of Dante's Inferno: "Midway upon the journey of our life I found myself within a forest dark, For the straightforward pathway had been lost." And I thought of that scene in The Hobbit when Bilbo and the dwarves are walking through Mirkwood, a seemingly endless and dark forest. Bilbo is sent to the top of a tree to see if he can spy the end of the woods. He does not realize, when he looks out over the treetops and sees nothing but trees in all direction, that they are in a natural bowl and it is something of an optical illusion. Disheartened, he reports back that the trees and the forest go on forever.

Unlike Dante, unlike Bilbo and company, I am not lost and wandering. And I was able to see the forest for the trees, after I stopped looking at the trees.

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