"Remember that the truth is in the details ... Of course the devil's there, too -- everyone says so -- but maybe truth and the devil are words for the same thing"
I have never been a detail-oriented person. I have always preferred big-picture thinking and have enjoyed relishing visions of possibility without really grasping the zillions of details that would take me there. My husband continues to remind me that it is easy to have another great idea, but painful if you refuse to account for the tiny steps that make up the path to your dreams.
I have been mostly cured of my reckless creative dreaming by the daily work of raising our four children and the processes and procedures that build a business, brick by brick. In the process I have learned to embrace the details as the dream because ultimately they are inseparable.
Life is nothing if not the details of time and place that identify the work and relationships that define our existence. We reveal ourselves most honestly and intimately in the smallest of interactions and the tiny incidents of daily routines. When we ignore and become impatient with the details of our lives, we betray the dreams that created them in the first place. Learning to embrace the details of life and give ourselves to them with the same intentions we held for the dreams that they came from is what transforms our ordinary life to the extraordinary.
Ernest Hemingway once wrote, "Every man's life ends the same way. It is only the details of how he lived and died that distinguish one from another." How we work with the details of life defines not only our days but also our capacity to love. Love happens in the context of the smallest of acts. Our feelings are interpreted through the multiple yet brief interactions that imprint in our frail memory and become the story we tell about who we are and who we love. The tenor of our voice, the softness of a glance, the patient waiting by the door, the listening of what has been heard before says everything about how we allow the details to shape our relationships and our heart.
It is easy to confuse the idea of our relationship and the actual day-in-and-day-out details of relating. This, I think, is why so many relationships fail. We think our relationships should have this bigger-than-life reality that has the power to make us happy or feel appreciated or seen or loved. In reality, it is the small details of interacting that is the relationship.
The rub is that many of the things we do for each other remain invisible to everyone but us. Mothers especially have this experience of filling needs and showing up that seems to never be witnessed by anyone but the doer. Even romantic relationships lose their shiny-vision quality over time, and it is nothing but the details and agreements about how details keep moving forward that adds new shine to relating.
I might as well just admit how tedious it can be -- the days when I can't connect the endless, minuscule details that consume my hours with my sense of meaning and purpose. For me, it is the ultimate disconnect, and I cannot see the truth in my actions. This is when I try to surrender. I have to remember again that it was my desire for a family that led me to all of these details piled on details. I have to mentally connect the dots between my grandiose mission of increasing the experience of love in the world to the packing of boxes, the filling out of excel sheets, the sweeping the floor.
The details of our lives are how we are of service to ourselves, the people who love us and our hopes. Tell someone how you love through attending to the detail. He or she will surely feel it.
Especially if she is a mother.