Often throughout my childhood, I remember my mother looking at me and saying, “You can’t see the forest for the trees.” I didn’t know what she meant, only that it wasn’t said as a compliment.
Fast forward many years later to a late summer afternoon when I am taking a guided tour of Antietam National Battleground on a date. This wasn’t necessarily something I was looking forward to, but it was of great interest to my date and I was happy just to be spending time with him. I tried to listen and pay attention because I knew he would want to talk about what we heard over dinner. And, of course, we did.
I recall this scenario as if it were yesterday, because it was a ‘lightbulb’ moment for me. When I asked, “What was the most memorable part of the tour?”, the response was about the bloodiest day in history and how many people died in that single battle. Then, I got the same question asked of me, and without pre-thought, said, “When the guide talked about the battle being so aggressive that if your buddy next to you went down, wounded or dead, you just closed ranks and continued moving forward.” My date had a picture of the entire forest, and I was centered around and focused on one tree.
Yep, the lightbulb went on. And processing that later, I came to realize that my world – the world I live my life in – is a small picture, a very small picture – based often on the effect to one or a few rather than the affect to many.
I don’t watch the World News or any of the ‘all the news all the time’ channels. It’s not that I wouldn’t glance at it if I were somewhere where it was on, but because I absorb so much mentally and emotionally within my own small world, I simply don’t feel like I have the capacity to grasp anything going on outside it.
I don’t call myself an empath, and I’m not sure I’d qualify as one. When someone is feeling something, I don’t really feel what they are feeling. What I feel is what I think I would feel if I were in their shoes. I may be 100% accurate, or I may be 100% wrong. I just always seem to be in some state of feeling – it is emotionality that I believe is at the center core of me. Nonetheless, there is plenty to absorb in my small, small world, and I suspect I absorb more than my share.
I’d like, on some level, to be well-traveled like my friend, Marnette. She’s always flitting off to this country or that country, she loves history and architecture and experiencing other cultures. It doesn’t hurt that she studies the area she is planning on visiting, so that she is able not to feel overwhelmed by it all. I get to live vicariously through her photos and tidbits that she willingly shares on Facebook, and I feel content with that.
While that sounds exciting, I truly do prefer staying here in my own small world, traveling to places close by or already visited. I’ve learned to accept that I will never be knowledgeable about what is going on in the world, contenting myself with knowing that I have plenty to see and learn within my small world boundaries.
Yes, it’s a small, small world, and I’m happy to live within it…..