The Forest for the Trees


Emily Carr Forest 1 - 42x30 acrylic on canvas

Have you ever woken up from a dream that caused you to sigh in relief, and feel a deep sense of thankfulness that the dream wasn’t real?

That happened to me this morning. My dream wasn’t particularly difficult or scary.  It was a dream about everyday life; my everyday life.  Of course, things were slightly altered than my regular everyday life, as they often are in dreams. A different home; different location; different activities. However, all of the important people in my life were there. There were no bad guys, no trauma’s (often my dreams can get extravagant and quite…unique). It was ordinary.  Except for one thing – in the dream, someone who is very important and close to me had been living with a debilitating illness.  Although there were still small visible symptoms, for the most part, this person was now well again. I was overjoyed and deeply moved that my loved one had ‘come back to me’; that she was now experiencing health and strength again. I didn’t have to endure the illness itself (in the dream) but was aware of how acute her suffering had been, and that she was now liberated and healed.


When I awoke from the dream, and felt the relief that my dream hadn’t been real, I was full of gratitude. Upon reflection, I felt a deep thankfulness for this person; humbled and grateful that what had come to pass in my dream, was not reality. I knew that I still had this person in my life to love and enjoy.  This put a great fire in my belly to appreciate this person and to be thankful for their health, their strength, and the closeness that we share.


My dream also left me with an urgent sense of wanting to live for today. To live and love those around me to the best of my ability.  To let go of petty differences and truly see the gift of human life.  Although this is lofty order, I am aware of its necessity; at least for today.


This awareness that was brought on by my dream, got me thinking; thinking about the things that get in the way of appreciating each other.  Much of our lives are spent hurried and harried.  We don’t steal the moments that we should with our loved ones, allowing stress and worry to be the more skillful thieves.  We allow the difficult things in life, the trials, illnesses, financial woes and so many others, to set up a dictatorship. We give them the power to bark orders and set the tone for how we live.


I don’t know about you, but it seems as though there is never a shortage of trials around the corner. If I’m not careful, I will end up allowing these difficulties to overshadow my life; dampen my joy; and trample on what is already a miraculous gift; the gift of being alive.


After taking a step back from my life as it was for the last ten years, I am much more able, willing and motivated to take the time that I need to let go of the rush and connect with those I love.  Of course there will always be times of crisis or pain, when survival becomes our focus.  However, I’m no longer bent on avoiding avoiding these difficulties. I guess you could say that I’ve begun see the forest for the trees.  Today, I can make a choice to step back and see the beautiful painting that is being composed.  There is an abundance of lush emerald green that is created, branching out from our ‘ordinary’ interactions, our good health, our close relationships.  There are the deep, dark shadows of difficulty created by illness, depression or loss. Though the darkness often seems fortuitous, it adds to the forests depth and beauty. There is also the bright golden light that weaves in and out of the forest; the light that allows us to see and experience the rich colour in our lives; the light that shines brighter when juxtaposed to the darkness.


Before I start to sound too ‘granola’, I want to encourage you, if only for a moment, to see the big picture. Allow yourself the time to look at and appreciate the benefit of family, friends, connection, creativity, good health – the list goes on.  We may also want to make a conscious choice to resist feeling bogged down by the long list difficulties; to not perceive the taste of life as all sour, when we’ve just had to chew on some lemons.  Maybe, just maybe, together we can say a prayer of thanks, for the beautiful, unique, and sometimes painstaking work of art that is being created – with your life and mine.


Becoming Ordinary: Day 166


Image courtesy of Taralee Guild on


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