All about the details

When my mind is most distracted, I miss the details. I’m in a hurry. I don’t have time to slow down and look closely. I missed the first buds of spring. I didn’t really taste that girl scout cookie when I ate it. I didn’t listen to the rain hitting the windows of my house.

But when I think about it, it is the details that bring clarity and joy to my life. My creativity is dependent on details. I sit down to write a poem about how I’m feeling, and it’s the note of the color, the painting of the mood, the smell of emotions that bring the poem to life. My poetry without the details is cliché. The details of life are what make my creative expression my own.

I’ve been feeling down and disconnected the last few months, and I realize I’ve not been taking time to focus on the details. One of my issues is that I’ve had major sinus problems lately. It’s impacted my hearing, my smell, and given me headaches. Prior to this, smell was a major source of pleasure for me. The dusty smell of the first drops of rain on the dirt, the sticky sweet blast from peeling an orange, the heaven of rich sweet brewed coffee. These are things I’ve been missing. I didn’t even notice I was missing smell until I was sitting in Kaffe Merc, and I realized the fabulous ladies of Lavender Kitchen were baking peanut butter cookies. I had to stop what I was doing and buy a cookie. I sat there and sniffed for 10 minutes before I started eating it. Two days later, my ability to smell was gone again.

However, I realize that I can still smell if I hold something very close to my nose and breathe deep. This takes time though, and I’m typically in too big of hurry to slow down and take a sniff. Yesterday during my Women In Motion class, we were talking about finding the satisfaction in food. Smell is an important part of satisfaction. So is slowing down and enjoying food with all your senses. We talked about how much time we typically take to eat food. Unless, I’m going to a fancy meal where I know I’m supposed to focus on the food, I just eat and I eat distracted. I miss all the details of the food I’m supposed to be enjoying.

But it’s not only food I’m rushing, it’s my everyday life. For my improv rehearsal on Tuesday, we did pantomime. The basics of pantomime is going through the true routines of what action you are acting out. The first task was make a sandwich. It’s the attention to detail that makes the pantomime real. Where’s the silverware drawer, what does the knife feel like in your hand when you take it out, where is the refrigerator, how do you grab each component of the sandwich and lay it out. My countertop would change heights. I stacked the peanut butter on top of the jelly. I forgot to set the jelly jar back down before picking up the bread to spread the peanut butter. I had to really concentrate on the details. But I could sense how oblivious I was when I do the simple task of making the sandwich. I  have no memory of how the knife feels in my hand. What does it weigh? How do Ihold and move it? Without the knife there, it’s a guess at how I would actually make that sandwich. Too get better at improve, I need to slow down and stay mindful of the tasks I’m working on. Form memories of the details so I can bring that with me into the performance.

With being sick lately, I haven’t felt like wandering around or going on adventures. I’m house sitting this week for my friend Nina. Each morning I’ve been taking Tully, her wonderful shepherd mix, out for a walk. On Monday, there was snow covering the trees and branches. The ornamental cherry tree next door had already started to bud and those buds were topped with snow. But it was on this morning’s walk that I realized without taking these walks I would miss watching spring take hold – the trees and bush showing their first signs of growth. How much detail do I miss of each of the seasons if I don’t get out and wander around? And this wandering can’t be rushed or I’ll miss those little signs of change.


These were reminders that if I’m going to be creative, I’ve got to slow down and pay attention to the details around me. My contentment in this life is dependent on my ability to create. When I’m not creating I feel stagnant. But it is so easy for me to get distracted by the bigger things in life – I’m not feeling well, I’ve got deadlines to meet, or I’m tired and not getting enough sleep. Slowing down helps pull me through these bigger issues, focusing on the details helps me stay in the moment, and from both of these I find contentment and peace in my life. I also find the rich details that form my creative expression.