Posted by ESC on March 16, 2000
In Reply to: Forest posted by Jenny on March 15, 2000
: : : Does anyone know what is ment by the popular phrase, "You can't see the forest for the trees."?
: : Personally I don't think that this saying has a meaning, or at least not one of any value.
: : After all what is a forest without trees? Can a forest exist without trees?
: : Although purporting to say something like 'you are letting the details obscure the overall picture', I suspect that it is more often used in a reverse sense to in fact obscure, diminish, or simply not see someone else's point of view.
: : Next time someone says to you 'You can't see the forest for the trees', notice whether you feel enlightened by them having said that, or not. Are they using the the phrase to validate your point of view, or the reverse? Perhaps they themselves do not want to look too closely at 'trees' and other entities within the 'forest' because it may alter their amorphous understanding of it, an understanding that may be completely wrong!
: WHOA! Right over my head. Can anyone give a real life situation where one person says something, and "You can't see the wood for the trees" is an appropriate response?
I'm going to try and explain a cliche with a cliche. Some people get so caught up in the details and tasks of getting a project done, that they lose sight of the "big picture." Why is this being done, what are we trying to accomplish?
Say someone is building a house and gets caught up in the details and chores of getting it built. The original purpose of the project, having a comfortable and beautiful home, gets lost in the struggle of getting it completed. He can't see the wood (a home) for the trees (bricks & mortar & plumbing & wiring).
Or something like that.