The Right Forest
I enjoy reading biographies, especially of people who have overcome tremendous challenges and done something good and meaningful with their lives.
Most recently, I have read a couple of memoirs by Duane “Dog” Chapman, famously known as Dog the Bounty Hunter.
As I was reading these books, for some reason I kept pondering the idiom:
Can't see the forest for the trees.
The meaning behind this phrase is that if you focus too much on minute details of a problem or situation, you cannot see the problem or situation as a whole.
As I've learned about “Dog” Chapman's harrowing, remarkable story and gotten to know the man a little better – as I've come to understand what makes him tick, what his purpose is and what drives him to do what he does – I realized that much of his success can be attributed to him figuring out how to see and focus on the forests in his life. He's figured out how to not get bogged down in details, size up a situation for what it is, and move forward in pursuit of his objectives.
Of course, one can also focus too much on the forest. In his second book Where Mercy is Shown, Mercy is Given, he talks about some of the financial struggles he's had because he wasn't focused on money and wasn't paying attention to what was happening with his finances. He was too focused on his forests – bounty hunting, doing his show, helping people, etc. – and neglected some important trees.
I've been thinking about areas of my life where I might be focusing too much on the trees. One area where I have been focusing way too much on the trees is the personal technology I use. I have always been fascinated with technology and gadgets and obsessed with them to some degree. But there have been too many instances where I have agonized for days or weeks over which smartphone or laptop or operating system or web browser or social media platform or mobile carrier or streaming music service (etc., etc.) I should use. Which one respects my privacy the most? Which one has the most features I like? Which one gives me the most value for my money? At times I've fixated so much on these mostly trivial details that it's almost paralyzing.
This past week I think it has finally started to sink in that I have been focused so much on those personal tech trees that I haven't been seeing the forest. In fact, I'm not even in the right forest.
When the time comes for me to pass on to the next phase of existence, I don't want my obituary to list the technological devices and services I used. But I do hope it will say something of any positive impact I was able to have in this life – something good or meaningful I was able to do for someone else. Technology will have empowered me to do those good things.
Nobody will care if my laptop ran Windows, macOS, or Linux. Nobody will care if I used Apple Music or Bandcamp. Nobody will care if I lived in a completely off-grid, carbon-neutral, eco-friendly, sustainable tiny house or a cookie-cutter site-built house in a sub-division. Nobody will care what phone I used or what car I drove. Nobody should care. Because none of that matters in the grand scheme of eternity.
People. Love. Family. Faith. Kindness. Community. Togetherness. Those are the right forests. The technology I use is just a tree.