Seeing the big picture

Published 12:00 pm Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Today is one of those misty days when light rain is predicted, but so far, only a few drops have fallen. Rather than wait for a downpour, I took the dogs for a walk in the woods this morning so that my little Jack Russell terrier (aka ‘terror’) would not bug me all day long to take her for a walk in the woods. We have trails through the woods which usually take about 45 minutes to an hour to walk ‘the loop’ that brings us back to the house.

Today I was not in a hurry, so we were out in the woods for an hour or more. After we got on their favorite trail, Penny (the Jack Russell) and my husband’s dog, Elsa, started digging furiously beneath the roots of a big tree. I stood there and watched while they dug. After a while, Elsa gave up, but Penny was frantic – pulling up roots with her teeth and digging with her snout, blowing out the dirt when she couldn’t breathe. I just watched. I started looking beyond the digging onto the hill and trees above. And what did I see?….the pretty little chipmunk that Penny was feverishly hunting, jaunting up the hill behind the tree. Penny kept on digging, to no avail. Eventually, I started walking again; Penny gave up and joined Elsa and me. But what I had just watched got me thinking.

When we want something strongly, we work very hard to get it. We look for a way to achieve our goals, and we put all our energy into getting there. We stay focused, just like Penny was focused on capturing that chipmunk. But so often, we do not get what we’re after, regardless of how long and how hard we’ve tried. Eventually, we stand back; we stop concentrating on the goal, and we look at the big picture. It’s only when we widen our lens from the goal that we can see beyond that goal. Sometimes, there is a big disappointment, but more often than not, we discover that the big picture shows us more than we could even imagine before, and it’s good. 

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The result of today’s walk: Penny got a lot of exercise and is now quite happy to take a nap, the chipmunk got away, and I opened my eyes for the rest of our walk. While simply daydreaming and looking up at the sky, I watched three black bear cubs climb up to the the top of an oak tree that is at least 75 feet high. They had seen us from a distance and decided to get out of our sight. Penny was smelling all over the ground and missed it all, and I would not have seen them had I not been looking up and daydreaming, concentrating on absolutely nothing.

How many things and experiences have we missed throughout the years because we were concentrating on ‘doing something’ or fulfilling our overwhelming commitments? 

Go take a walk in the woods, without your telephone. Just be there, daydreaming. You’ll learn far more than you ever imagined.