There’s that phrase, “couldn’t see the forest for the trees,” which is really kind of a clever description of someone who’s either only considering a small part of a situation and/or who are so focused on the details that they completely miss and don’t appreciate the larger situation and context. But at the same time, we have the phrase, “stuck in their ivory tower,” or perhaps, “their heads are in the clouds,” which relates to someone who is only seeing things from a thousand meters and are so focused on the ‘big picture’ of the thing that they are completely separated from the facts and requirements and the nuances of the situation and context.
Which points to a spectrum, doesn’t it? And, even more so, of the value of traveling along that spectrum.
One of the great things I feel fortunate to have learned in becoming an architect is that skill of being able to zoom out and see the whole of the thing, including the form, the environment, the context(s), their interactions, and the possible impacts… and then (have to) zoom all the way into the specific detail of how that piece of wall will connect to the floor. And everything in between, including function and circulation, codes and safety, space and experience, and etc. It’s a constant shifting of scales, and a constant game of remembering that what you change at one scale will have an effect and impact the others (and therefore might require changes or adjustment there).
The spectral game is to remain present and mindful of both scales, at the same time. To see both the forest and the trees and to appreciate both.
Or as this Sufi proverb expresses in an equally clever manner: “Trust in God, but tie up your camel.”