When we can’t see the forest for the trees


A widow sold my friend a 1957 red Chevy. It was polished and detailed with chrome, and roared when it rolled. My friend said to her, “Your late husband must have spent hundreds of hours on this car.”

Her response, “Yes, he did. I wished I had the time with him that he spent on his car.” Apparently, the widow saw more clearly than her husband did, but it was too late.

Ouch! When I heard this, I was nailed to the wall. I knew I was guilty of the same thing. I missed the wrestling banquet this year and one of the last times the High Rollers would play together. There was a mix-up and my Sweet Al showed up without me.

In fairness, I did drop off a double nut, double cream cheese carrot cake for the auction ahead of time. My son-in-law labeled it “Better-Than (You-Know-What) Carrot Cake” and it brought in $175 at the auction. Still, I should have been there to be a part of the fun.

It’s a good thing that my Sweet Al gets around more than me. He mentioned that he enjoyed talking to Mr. G., one of my readers.

“Did you tell Mr. G. how much I always appreciate his kind words?”

“No. We didn’t talk about you.”

“What? Isn’t it all about me?”

Evidently not, but something I am OK with. I believe we all live in our own forest, the thick green mangled foliage of happenstance and life. A place where self-centeredness is comfortable. Perhaps like the widow’s husband, we spend more time in our own life simply because we are so attached to who we are.

I am sure there are many who can relate to the widow. I know that I am guilty of finding distraction in my own forest of thought, driven to tackle something only important to me. When I am on the Lower Blanco, I find I am in my own literal and virtual forest that keeps me a million miles away from the world — my proverbial happy place.

I started thinking about the saying “You can’t see the forest for the trees.” It is an expression used of someone who is too involved in the detail of a situation that they can’t see where they are in the sum of all of its parts. A perfect description for when I disappear into my “happy place.” How many times have I busied myself with my own projects, not realizing I was keeping others at bay? It is like someone needing to paint an entire house in one day, but spending half of the day picking out the right color.

I could probably come up with a thousand reasons why I find it necessary to get lost in my own moment. But, the truth is, we all need to step away from those things all-encompassing, every now and again.

It is almost like we need to “detach” from ourselves, to stop in our own moment of importance long enough to be aware of the lives of those we genuinely care about. Sometimes we need to enter in to the forest of others, taking time to understand who and where they are among the trees.

Alas, we are determined and can’t seem to escape our own entanglements long enough to give pause to those around us. It’s a form of self-absorption. I don’t think that it is a bad thing, provided we can step out from an opening to let others in or to see clearly that which is around us. Especially if it means doing so before the time to do so is gone.

Final brushstroke: The widow sold the car her late husband left behind. The car was not that important to her. She would have rather had a few more minutes with her husband than the few dollars the car gathered. After all, now someone else is driving his car and enjoying the time he spent on it.

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