Details

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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!

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Future

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If you do this then that will happen. Linked, of course with action and consequence. And I am also advised that “if only” is a terrible expression and we should therefore strive to not only grasp opportunities as they arrive but also to make good choices. As if any of us would make bad choices if we knew the future.

However, as people, we try very hard to predict the future, and I know no psychic who ever died of hunger… except maybe the ones who were actually right. Cassandra springs to mind. I have always had a soft spot for Cassandra. The Greek myth says that she was a prophetess and as such under the protection of Apollo, a later Sun persona. As a prophetess, her word was not doubted, the only mistake could come from interpreting the notoriously mysterious messages given. But then Apollo fell in lust with Cassandra and she refused him, so he cursed her to always be true and never believed. Needless to say she went mad (was mad?) and her life went downhill from there. Greek tragedies make thrillers seem comical and horror movies seem non-sensical.

But predicting the future has another downside, as if knowing in advance what will happen is not bad enough. Even Cassandra, always true, could not do anything to prevent the future from happening. And I think that is what actually drove her mad. Assuming responsibility way beyond what human shoulders can carry. I reckon that the Greeks (and most every traditional society that had prophets… hm, that would make all of them!) put the prophets under the protection of a God/dess for the express purpose of stopping the madness from taking hold. If you are just the mouth of a God/dess then you couldn’t possibly be responsible for what you predict, in fact, it is presumptuous to do so. In some cultures you prophesy only in a trance, or under the influence of special plants, mostly hallucinogenics. The setting is carefully chosen, the people carefully prepared, sacrifices are made.

Compare this then with the current way of “predicting”. Using logic (action and consequence) only, assuming responsibility for both right and wrong prediction, blamed for the choices people make based on those predictions… does that sound to you as a recipe for disaster? And let’s not think of the ones who make religious/financial/eschatological prophecies. Take people in every-day life, trying to predict whether to marry, buy a car, have a baby, change jobs, invest, buy a house. All sort of choices. Go to university, it’s the only way to get a good job. Start your own business, it’s the only way to be free. Save for retirement, you never know when the super will become unmanageable. Send your child to private school, so he can have a good future.

And if you don’t? You should have done this, if you’d have done this none of this would have happened, silly! There is no shortage of people who will point out “if only”’s. And, without a God/dess, without salvia and mushrooms, with no sacrifices made and no questions properly asked, what do we get?

Blame and guilt, of course, what else.

To what purpose? It doesn’t seem to teach us anything. Not even when we are lucky.

I’ll ponder this while I ask my question of the Tarot.