The Forest and the Trees

by Mark Goodson

It was the kind of Monday that gives Mondays a bad name.

I work hard. I’ve found I must work harder in order to carve out time for myself to do things I enjoy, namely writing. To spare the details but give you the gist, it was the sort of day where that sacred time when I can be alone with my thoughts was postponed in increments. Like taps of the snooze button, more delays kept coming my way. More requests, more reminders, more questions.

My last opportunity was a nice chunk of time between 3 and 4 in the afternoon.

The phone rang at 3:05. My son has hives. I’m needed at home.

After an hour’s worth of failed attempts to give him medicine, I had to hold his arms and force the medicine down his throat.

Family dinner. More of the same. He cried about everything, even the bag of chips he eats won’t “stand up” on the table like he wants. At one point he bit his lip.

“Wash it down with some milk bud.”

In a hysterical convulsion, he poured the milk all over himself, at which point I notice my daughter successfully finger painted her side of the table with fruit-mash.

“Let’s give up,” said my wife.

I agreed.

“Just finish your milk and you can have some marshmallows,” she said.

“I caaaaan’t.” More hysterics.

“Why’s that?”

“The milk won’t let me drink it.”

Of course it won’t.


It’s hard to see the forest from the trees.

Just yesterday, we were picnicking on the beach. We could have posed for a Norman Rockwell painting. Life seemed this wide-open and joyful expanse. Today, the blinders were on. I couldn’t see but the few feet in front I needed to trudge through the day.

My sponsor would say “thank you God” to summarize the same point he drives home every time I complain to him. And he would be right.

What I need is acceptance. If I only accept that today went exactly as it was supposed to, I can breathe, even laugh a little. I can realize that the only reason this day feels shitty is because I had expectations for it to feel otherwise.

I worked the job I love (when I’m not hating it), and I was able to be there for my family. There’s the forest. And the forest is only beautiful through the trees which make it up, something a friend reminded me today.


The trees are the mundane; the forest is the miracle.

The Benadryl really kicked in after dinner. While still hysterical, my son’s eyes began to roll back in his head. I took him up early for bed.

Monday had one more punch.

I asked him to choose his book for the night. He sorted through dozens of short children’s stories to find The Nutcracker—a freakin’ novela.

“We can read one chapter, that’s all.”

“Daddy—alllllll of it,” his speech slurred.

Something came over me. I realized my boy skipped nap because the hives made him itchy. His dad had to hold his arms and shoot a syringe of Benadryl down his throat. Shit, even his bag of chips wouldn’t stand up right.


“Ok, bud.”

I read the whole damn thing. He fell asleep when all the tiny dancers came out of the woman’s dress in the land of the ferries. The boy whose arms I restrained 3 hours ago, now slept peacefully in mine.

One tree can never make up a forest; a forest can’t be made up of anything else.


Reprinted by kind permission of the author. More of his writings on sobriety can be found at

About the Authors

Contributors to Renascent’s Blog share their stories of addiction and recovery and/or their professional expertise.