The Forest and Its Trees

I wrote this post on my xanga almost 2 years ago. Just now I read this post at Robin Monique's blog and was reminded of it. I edited it a little bit, but it's mostly just as I wrote back in '07.

Ever heard the saying "You can't see the forest for the trees"? I've heard it a thousand times. It's tongue-in-cheek, and I while I always pretty much understood what it means (context clues) it's not a phrase I would have had an easy time describing.

In a way, what part of that sentence makes much sense? The forest IS the trees, right? Well, yes, sort of.

Right now, my job involves me editing the graphics of substations. To make a complicated process simple, think of it this way:

Substation graphics consist of the intricate elements of a substation. Where the wires are and what they connect to and what else is inside the substation. These graphics go down an assembly line. I'm more/less at the end of the line and it's my job to make sure that if that substation is printed (which I just printed about a hundred of them) it looks the way it is supposed to.

One detail I have to check for is to make sure each element that is red is made white, so that it will print black. I also have to delete any element that is green. Some of those elements are tiny wires and they're so close to the surrounding elements that if you're not careful you might accidentally delete something you weren't supposed to. One way to guard against that is to zoom in on the element so that it appears to be much bigger and that makes highlighting it for deletion much easier.

So, I'm steadily working on deleting all the green elements. I zoom in on this one area very closely and when I finally delete all the elements marked for deletion, I'm happy to be finished and I zoom out to see the whole substation graphic. I was SURPRISED to see how much green I had left.

I had become so focused in on one portion that I forgot I had an entire substation to finish. I think that's what "you can't see the forest for the trees" is really about. It's not always bad to zoom in one thing -- it helps to be focused and purposeful in your actions, but don't let that allow you to forget the big picture. There are a lot of areas to be zoomed in on and don't think that because you've done one area, the whole thing is complete.

It can be frustrating for me to spend 20 minutes in one area of a substation and zoom out only to realize how much I have left, but I try to remember that if I'm steady with my actions, purposeful and patient, it'll all get done. Maybe not right now, but eventually I'll zoom out and see all white... and then I'll close that file and open up a new one, to start ALL OVER AGAIN. :)

Like Robin Monique, sometimes I start looking down the road at where I'm trying to go and it is overwhelming. So I put my head back down and work hard on what's right in front of me, unfortunately sometimes I forget that there is a bigger picture. It's the fine-balance that I sometimes need to keep in mind. Note the goal, know where it is, always, but don't let it become so overwhelming that you can't take the next step.

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