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See the Forest and the Trees

Sometimes you see the forest: the large, the long-term, the far-reaching, the expansive, the seemingly infinite. Sometimes you see the trees: the minute, the detailed, the individual, the near-to-hand, the immediate. But can we truly see both at once? It's difficult to do simultaneously—not within our grasp.


I suppose I’m asking figuratively. Literally, it’s physiologically impossible for us to focus on the foreground and the background at the same time—not with our relatively simplistic eyes. Maybe if we had the independent eyes of a chameleon or an insect’s compound ones, but then that opens up a whole other realm of issues. Not the least of which is not having sentience, and therefore rendering this very query moot.


Beyond the physical ability we lack, may we possess the metaphysical reach to see the forest and the trees? The broad and the narrow, the near and the far, the now and the then?


Can you keep both in focus at the same instant? If we could, wouldn’t that mean that by keeping everything in focus at once keeps nothing in focus at all. It’s in our ability to perceive the relative depths of field that we are able to see and begin to make sense of the limitless and chaotic. It’s the contrast between the singular and the multitude that defines each.


Embrace the forest and the trees. Take each in for what they are to gain perspective.




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