A Re-booting Reminder: Keeping The Forest in View

For all of us, it’s easy to get lost in the details of our lives. Too often, we are so enmeshed in the day to day machinations of what’s going on that we lose sight of the bigger picture. For some, the bigger picture can feel overwhelming or incomprehensibly distant, as if we were being asked to read some academic tome in a language we don’t know. For others, there is such urgency to our immediate circumstances—so much is demanded from us right here, right now—that we haven’t the time or energy to peer up from our bunkers. And then, there are the intellectual zombies who never even bother to wonder. (Because this last group has zero curiosity about life and are of no interest to me, this post will ignore them.)


While there’s good reason to base our choices on “living in the now,” the truth is there’s more to our lives than simply what’s going on today. In fact, for each of us, there’s a big picture we’re intended to follow. Each of us is here to learn and work out particular life lessons. Alas, we are not handed these on a tablet when we turn two or twelve or twenty. Nobody emails us a power point that summarizes in seven succinct slides the life wisdom I Am Meant to Master. Instead, we thrash blindly about, plotting our course by using conventional wisdom and what’s in front of us as our only guide posts (suppressing most internal growls of protest).


I just don’t know why I can never get a break,” one friend ranted after detailing an episode involving her ex, a high school party, and the sheriff. Reading her words, I shake my head in sympathy because I understand what she’s feeling. In fact, last week, I was sent home early from my sad little temp job for working too efficiently, for being too productive. And paid all the less for my reward. To say I felt thwarted only touches the surface of my frustration with my earnest efforts to re-boot my life. You’re sending me home for doing too good a job? Seriously?


My exasperated response is understandable—especially considering how long this wilderness period has extended—but to allow my immediate reactions of disappointment and frustration to confirm that the Universe is determined to keep me down enables my emotions to obscure the big picture. Life is not random. There must be a greater purpose in my struggle. There must be a reason I continue to collide with closed doors.


Now, while it would be a lot more satisfactory for me to indulge myself by crediting a great conspiracy theory as to why I can’t make progress—I could get drunk and cry or run around and make a bunch of bad choices—that would be my emotions dictating both my actions and my attitude. And given how passionate a person I am, I could have a lot of fun being dramatic, so reining that in requires no small amount of discipline on my part. But because I believe that a constructive purpose exists, the calmer, more mature part of me counsels myself to pause. To wait. To calm down. To de-catastrophize what has happened. In other words, I separate out what I am feeling from a clinical assessment of what is.


Because the facts are this: I am not living under a bridge; I am not without talents. Odds are an open door awaits—somewhere, please God. In fact, when I dispassionately assess my situation, what becomes clear is just how much support I am receiving. All is not lost! Truth be told, I continue to get “breaks,” to receive support, and am making fundamental progress in understanding who I am while gaining maturity in how I perceive and react to the world around me. Maybe this extended ordeal is the only way I could make these breakthroughs. Such growth doesn’t pay my bills, but it does deliver a powerful sense of inner peace and confidence. Hey, you know what? Come to think of it, I feel better already.


So the next time you’re about to pull your hair out in frustration or drink yourself into oblivion because everything feels like it’s falling apart, I want you to take a moment to consider what you’re reacting to and the significance you’re ascribing to it. Is it your lousy day? Your lackluster marriage? Your dwindling bank account? Your impossible family? Because, as hard as it is, you have more important things on your plate; there’s a Big Picture Purpose for what you’re going through. Whatever it is, it’s something YOU need to learn. Remember that. Those trees will only trip you up…






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