Forest…Or Trees?

Have you ever tried to see the hidden pictures in those “Magic Eye” 3-D books?  You know the ones I’m talking about…Those books filled with multi-colored pictures that have all sorts of repetitive designs covering the page.  You wouldn’t know that there was anything special about the pictures just to glance at them.  Actually, even to stare at them, sometimes, there is nothing special to see.  But, if you hold the book  and look at it in the correct way, the pattern disappears and shapes just seem to jump out at you, moving back and forth across the page as you move your head.  If doesn’t require special glasses;  It just requires that you know how to look, or more correctly, how not to look at the page properly.

I have spent long periods of time willing myself to see the images in some of these pictures, only to be stymied by my complete lack of ability.  Other times, I can look at the image, relax my vision and stare through it, only to have the 3-dimensional objects pop up instantly.  There seems to be no rhyme or reason to the procedure for me, just dumb luck, maybe especially that, in my case.  The Lovely Lady laughs at me and buys the contrivances of torture to lay out on the coffee table, knowing that sooner or later, she’ll find me staring into them, frustrated and shamed by this simple stunt which should be child’s play, but isn’t.

The old saw, “You can’t see the forest for the trees” actually doesn’t apply here.  If the point is to see the individual tree in a forest, you must focus on that tree.  In these “forests” of multi-colored patterns, you must let your vision relax, looking into the distance through the photo, and what you want to see at the fore-front just appears before your eyes.  Simple to say and know, difficult to achieve (for some of us).

Today, I was happy for the ability to see “through” a problem in a similar manner.  A customer came in this afternoon to have the strings changed on his guitar, a ten minute job at most.  He suggested an improved manner of wrapping the strings, since one had broken in an odd place, but as I loosened the remaining strings, I discovered a different part which was actually the culprit.  The plastic “bridge” at the top of the fingerboard, actually called the “nut”, was broken.  Easy to fix on a normal guitar…just remove the broken pieces and the old dried glue, select a new nut shaped at the factory and re-glue.  New strings installed and the customer would be off!  Unfortunately, this guitar is a custom built instrument, which the builder had endued with some odd features.  The unusual “zero-fret” required that the nut be lower than normal and the fact that the nut was about one-fourth of the normal thickness from front to back was completely baffling.  There was absolutely no product I could imagine which would work to replace the broken part.  I was buffaloed.  And, I was way overtime on the project!

What I wanted to do was hand the guitar back to the owner and tell him to take it back to the maker.  He wasn’t having that at all.  “You’re the master luthier,” he encouraged, a description which coincidentally, bears no resemblance to the truth.  I’ve never built a guitar in my life and have been dragged to the repairman’s bench kicking and screaming all the way.  But his statement made me think.  Knowing that I wasn’t actually the one responsible for this mess, I quit concentrating on the problem part and the necessity for me to get it repaired right now.  I stood with my eyes staring unseeingly at the guitar, thinking about the fool who had designed the guitar.  As I contemplated, I considered the notion that no one fabricates what can be purchased cheaply, and all of the sudden, my eyes narrowed and I saw…a modified, factory-cut bridge saddle (albeit, shortened and slotted), where a moment ago I was seeing the oddly designed (now broken) nut.  This fool wasn’t a fool at all (well except for a design flaw or two)!  He used the parts he had at hand.  True, it had been filed a little here, and cut a little there, but it was from a readily available and cheaper part than the professionally-made nut.  And in my own shop, a few moments later, having cut down and slotted one of my bridge saddles, I was installing the new strings and tuning up the instrument, much to the delight of both the owner and myself.  The Lord knows that I really didn’t need another repair project to add to the growing stack, which, as my sister descriptively quotes, “Heavy, heavy, hangs over my head.”  Therefore, I was absolutely delighted to complete the job and move on the the next item in my dizzying itinerary for the afternoon.

Why is it that we sometimes have to look past our problems to see them clearly?  Like the three dimensional photos, the harder we try to find it, the more elusive the solution becomes.  Why do the issues seem so intimidating when we concentrate on them, but are easily solved when we relax and quit worrying?  Maybe it’s because the real problem is in having the wrong focus.  Maybe by looking through, past the dilemma, we actually see the Maker, the Master Designer and so, see the simplicity of the design.  And, I’m fairly certain that this Builder is no fool, and as one kid said, “He don’t make no junk!”

“In every life we have some trouble,
When you worry, you make it double,
Don’t worry, be happy…”
(Bobby McFerrin, American songwriter, singer)
[thanks for the reminder, Becky!]

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