I’ve not sent you a photo before so here’s one I took last Friday.
Magnificent silver birches trees. As I stood admiring these impressive albinos a friend said to me, “You could miss the wood for the trees” and that set me thinking. The saying has always made me think. Like, what does it mean in the context of life? But as I stood there taking in the view I think I understood or at least understood one possible meaning.
How easy it is to be lost in the whole scene, the big picture. Please agree with me, it is impressive. But it takes many individual trees to make a copse and more to make a wood and then a forest…
Look carefully because everyone is different and every difference adds to the content of the picture. How easy it is to look at a wood and see “trees” without any reference to what we are looking at. I do it all the time. But each tree is worthy of attention. These birches with their parchment like bark and upright growth. Each one is a work of art. Yes seeing trees and not the wood is like walking through a gallery and seeing pictures when you should be pausing to see the mastery of Cezanne, or Monet or Pollock.
Then there’s life which can easily become a “big picture” event and many go about it that way when so much needs to be observed and drilled down into. Many make sweeping statements about a thing with no reference as to why it may be as it is, no attempt to understand the history, the motivations, the personalities. Or with people who are judged not as a person but as part of a group, a belief, a system.
So we make many mistakes, poor judgements and bring harm into the world. Yes there is a place for “big picture” thinking. It is very important and avoids situations becoming bogged down in detail. But the detail is also important to understand. If you have no wood…no trees.
German-born architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohebut famously said “The devil is in the detail” meaning, in a broad sense, we need to understand the detail in many situations in order that we correctly understand the whole. The detail can hold the secrets and the deepest truth.
So, please take time to try and understand the things in life that are of consequence to you. If you’ve never thought them through take time to do so. Ask “why” and continue till you are satisfied. So also with people. She behaves like that but how differently you might approach her if you understood why. Life really is a great adventure and a continuous lesson.
Enjoy the classroom,