Details

DSC05825

The devil might be in them… have you noticed how much religion influences every day speech – that’s exactly the type of detail that I find endlessly fascinating! Detail is also the mainstay of mindfulness, and many an endeavour has depended on tiny things, often overlooked.

I usually advocate big picture thinking, great issues that still need thinking about, people being put in the wide world context, perspective. And the more I do the above, the more I realize that fitting in the details gives you a far better bigger image… like a digital photo, with size and quality of pixels give you a blur …or a masterpiece.

Our entire lives are made of details. Sometimes all you can do is go through one more breath. One minute when your lover is late is literally an age! If you are the tidying up sort, an entire day can pass without you breaking into a sweat doing anything major, just lots of tiny things. If you have a particular way of doing things, someone messing even a small thing can make you uncomfortable.

Details also take a long time to notice and to put into the big puzzle. In the days without computers, TV, telephone, trains, planes etc. observing details was the only way of figuring out things… and people. People would spend literally hours dissecting every move, every word, every intonation. A girl’s entire life, a man’s entire fortune could sometimes depend on those details being accurately assessed.

Predicting the future (should you wish to do so… I have made my opinion clear in a previous post) is also much more precise if you pay attention to the details. Patterns and generalities, assumptions and beliefs are all very nice, but a few details puzzled together have a better chance of being true… and useful!

And it’s that usefulness, or at least meaning, that makes paying attention to details either a waste of time or extremely pleasing. It is the big picture, the perspective, the story you make your brain believe that will kick start it into noticing the little things. Your brain is good at it as a rule, but you’ve got to help it out! You know the type of world we are living in. I read somewhere that we receive in one day the same amount of information people two centuries ago would receive in a lifetime. Your brain can’t possibly remember everything. It will try to filter (and it is helped by our technology) and sometimes will not register anything. I can spend two hours on Facebook (once a month) and not remember more than 2-3 things, even though I may have shared 7. By next day I will not remember any of those either. 🙂

You can spend a lifetime like this, and some do. When religious people complain about this generation losing meaning, they might be on to something, even though their solution is not general. Life times, as I said above, are made of details. Which ones to choose? Which ones to discard? Which filter, and when? But most importantly, why? How is my life better, richer, more fulfilling by paying attention to this particular detail?

I have been lucky – my pathway has been chosen for me. If you need a push, then the first thing is to make time (take “paying attention to” to mean “I will pay with time to focus on”) and, either alone, or with friends who matter, or family who care, figure out the horizon you want to ride your camel (or your Harley!) towards.

Then ride!

Choice

DSCN2053

You cannot talk about action (or consequences for that matter) without mentioning choice. That goes even if free will is not the be all and end all in your universe, because you still don’t know the full plan so you have to rely on an imperfect feel of what you ought to do, including commands, principles, requirements.

It could be that we need the above commands etc. as there is really nothing that is absolutely required if you are a free agent in the world. It is a matter of choice, all of it. Look at a baby refusing to sleep, despite being exhausted. Look at a protester refusing to eat or drink. Look at monks and nuns with vows of celibacy. Look at those who commit suicide. And yet living, eating, drinking, sleeping are supposed to be natural requirements, and I haven’t even begun to mention the human ones!

If the above are teaching us anything at all I suppose it is the fact that choice is not easy. So much so that I lose patience with questions like “if the boat is overloaded and you have to through someone overboard in order to save the majority, who would you condemn?”… and here follows usually a list of people that addresses everything that is prejudice in us.

I ignore this type of question because I believe that every day choices are difficult enough sometimes that we really don’t have time for making our lives even more complicated.

Choice is also the subject of… hm… choice (non-intended pun… which I will adopt and intend from now on 😛 ) for the regulators of our society. How often have we heard judges prompting people in court to make “better choices”? Food and drink with or without some much publicized ingredients are also “better choices”. Elections are full of people who are “better choices” than others. We are expected to compare and act…based, of course, on the intention – be healthy, be safe, be better off.

Several of the choices are automated (breathing, heart beat etc.), others are behind very strong walls (living, not hurting ourselves intentionally), yet others are regularly reinforced (eating, drinking, sleeping). Most of the other choices we make are small and easy – what to wear, what to eat, what time to put our alarm at. This, of course, brings us to the big choices, the ones that influence a big portion of our lives, and the most difficult. They are not many, and they are also the ones most heavily influenced by society. Those choices are sometimes at odd times: haven’t you ever marveled that we know teens’ brains are under construction but we still expect them to decide the direction for most of their lives? Others are made for strange (to me) reasons – marriage being decided by other people than the ones getting married, really? Still others are annoying – deciding to study the inside of an atom as a priority as opposed to finding a contraceptive that doesn’t wreck bodies, desire or fertility.

The big picture/perspective is probably the most important factor in the choices we make. But big picture hasn’t been a favourite subject for a long time, with individuality, specialization and win-lose mentality being preferred. Sure, we fit into our respective niches, but these niches are rarely communicating with many other niches.

And what is the point of a fragmented society?