I can’t say I ever discovered the answers in that particular case. But with life in general, getting a glimpse of the bigger picture can often be very beneficial. It is so easy to get wrapped up in the minutiae of our day-to-day living, to get so bogged down by the details of our immediate concerns that we lose sight of the overall plan for our lives. Not that we have an actual plan, per se, but at least it helps to have an idea of the direction in which we hope to be headed. As the saying goes, if we don’t know where we’re going, how will we know when we get there?
Seeing the big picture can mean a lot of things. It can mean finding a “higher purpose” in our lives, trying to figure out why we are here on an existential level. It can be more pragmatic: trying to see how we fit into the overall scheme of things – which cog we are on which gearwheel that turns which shaft (or something like that; I flunked out of my mechanics class in school). Or it can simply mean looking up from time to time to get a fix on the horizon, to help keep ourselves on an emotional and mental even keel.
So how do we do all of this? It usually involves slowing down, allowing ourselves the time and space to be contemplative. I think it’s kind of related to the mindfulness exercises we were taught in brain school. At the outpatient treatment program, each morning started out with some form of mindfulness practice. Sometimes it was a breathing exercise or a simple form of meditation. Other times, it was taking a “mindful” walk outside and trying to become better aware of our surroundings. And on some days, it was sitting and staring at rocks to see what we could notice when we really tuned in (yes, I paid good money to be taught how to observe rocks).
I’m not saying that contemplating rocks will lead to an epiphany as to the meaning of life (although I wouldn’t entirely rule out that possibility). But slowing down a bit will help us gain perspective in our lives. We can easily become overwhelmed by the immediacy of our problems and can render ourselves helpless if we don’t shift our thinking to a broader scope now and then. It’s like the drowning person who expends all their energy flailing about in a panic, when all they really need to do is relax and float for a bit (okay, I flunked swimming lessons, too, but I think the analogy still holds water).
In some cases it might be that the bigger picture is just as overwhelming as our immediate view point. And maybe breathing and mindful contemplation seems overly simplistic. But we don’t know until we try. We can always go back to worrying if we want to. In the meantime, there are some pretty cool rocks to look at out there.
I like the green ones.