March 22, 2016

Don’t just See the Forest—Let yourself See the Trees.

Corrin Rockwell article photo

We have all heard the adage that someone “can’t see the forest for the trees”—meaning that we get so wrapped up in the details, we lose perspective and can no longer see the bigger picture.

I am pretty sure no one is saying that about me. I am really good at seeing the forest—the forest is my specialty. My worry is, I get so wrapped up in planning for the future—for that bigger picture—that I lose the beauty of experiencing the details.

I am not saying we shouldn’t see the forest. We should definitely see the forest, because the big picture of the forest is undeniably important. I just want to make sure that I also allow myself to see the trees.

I am a planner. I make lists and do research and create elaborate itineraries. While planning for a recent trip, I was deeply into my research process, compiling a working list of hotel options, the best restaurant spots and activity ideas, for between my elaborately mapped out meals. I was following up on those ideas by checking out times, menus and reviews. I was searching for posts and tips from others who had recently traveled to my destination.

Then, I caught myself–-how much time have I spent preparing for this trip? Checking restaurant reviews? Determining the best hotel location? Coming up with a plan—and a rainy day plan to be the back-up plan to my plan?

The answer is: a big ‘ol bunch of time.

When the amount of planning time starts to rival the amount of time that will actually be spent enjoying the trip being planned for, I’d say it is safe to consider it too much time.

I just get so bogged down in details and  striving for perfection—making sure I’m not missing anything. And this travel planning anecdote is just a trivial example! I also get bogged down with the details of day to day life. I get so busy focusing on the tasks that need to happen—to achieve the end goal of an impeccably kept home, or a perfectly planned trip, or a well executed renovation (the list could go on)—that I miss the opportunity to color, or read, or play hide and seek (again, the list could go on) with my kids right now.

I get so busy planning out schedules to make my family’s calendar run smoothly, I miss the enjoyment of the individual items on that calendar—enjoying my daughter’s gymnastics class or watching my children participate in story hour at the library.

I am seeing the big picture forest goals, but I am not always seeing the individual moments of the trees. I think that I could benefit from letting myself experience—and I mean truly see and enjoy—the trees a bit more.

The beauty of life is hiding in the minutia.

I need to be more mindful of the moment that I am in—choosing to interact with my loved ones—choosing to stop and appreciate a beautiful sight and (gasp!) to actually sit and chew and digest. Letting myself experience the little moments that are happening to me and around me every second will let me actually connect to the life that I am working so hard to create.

The next time I find myself completely wrapped up in planning for a future event or checking things off of my to do list, I am going to make a conscious effort to stop and notice what I’m missing in the present moment. The next time I tell my child or a loved one to wait a minute, I will make myself check in to see what is so important that I am choosing to put real-time life on hold. And in those moments—even though I know there is a whole forest out there—I want to stop to appreciate all of the beautiful trees that are the entire reason the forest exists.


Author: Corrin Rockwell

Editor: Yoli Ramazzina

Photo: Author’s own.

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