There is beauty in the detail.
There is detail in the beauty.
There is also a great deal of misunderstanding of the nature of curiosity and exploration and pondering things to unusual depths – some call this ‘overthinking’. Others call it ‘being too sensitive’. The compliment is frequently, “Wow – you notice everything!” while the belittlement is similarly effusive but of very different tone. “My god, why do you have to notice everything?!”
Last week, in a quiet moment at work, I showed a coworker how I could twist my tongue almost 360 degrees lengthwise around and back again in the other direction. Like a log roll (as opposed to one of those party tooters that uncurls and tweets when you blow through). She howled with laughter then complimented me on the agility of my eyebrows and how they can arch independently of each other.
“I wish I could do that. How did you learn to do that!?”
In decades past my answer has been, ‘Oh, I’m just weird’ and smile ‘tah dah.’ But I trust this coworker and friend so I shared with her the hours I used to spend in my childhood bedroom, staring into the mirror over my dresser, making faces at myself. Training one eyebrow to go really far up while the other rested, unchanged. Then, I’d learn the other side to the do the same. Similarly, I would gape into the mirror while making faces until I mastered which muscles did what with my tongue. It took a while to get it right.
“You mean you had that much time as a kid to…be alone…?” And, yes, there were days I was relegated to ‘go play’ in my room for hours at a time. It was our mother’s way of getting us out of her beauty-parlored hair. It also kept the house relatively tidy; no toys downstairs, except on rare occasion, so nothing to clean up.
When I was older, I moved out of my room and onto my 10-speed and spent most of the good weather outside, riding to places I was forbidden to go. Down to and across the highway, up long private driveways, our town, neighboring towns, a candy store, certain boy’s houses across the same dangerous highway and most definately across the train tracks. Basically, I was allowed to ride only in our neighborhood of crusty old money geezers and one Italian family who sent all their kids to Catholic school in plaid. But I figured what our mother didn’t know wouldn’t kill her so I rode for miles in one direction – half the time length until my curfew, then back again. I did this a lot – disobeyed and explored at the same time.
On those rides, I noticed everything. House paint, chippy numbers on mailboxes, bird calls, fenced dogs. Every divot out of the roadway and every high-stink roadkill in pieces in the sand left from winter’s snow and ice. I knew where there were horses hidden in the trees and where there was a mattress pile in the woods down the road from our house. The mini bike trails were a tangled mess of tall grass and overgrown woods, and the fog of pot and rusting beer cans kept me from actually biking through more times than not.
Sunday, we visited a friend’s home where she has a small farmstead. A pair of cinnamon and sugar goats, red and glossy oxblood chickens, immature mallards and fawn colored ducks and a goose, and a pack of mismatched dogs are on the property. She grew corn this summer; wilder, earthier varieties than peg or sugar or plain yellow and ground some into meal then baked the most mouthful cornbread. I loved every detail of our visit and wandering through the massive, peculiar bamboo forest that is overtaking a once-tiered manicured formal garden of that 1920’s plantation estate.
Every detail. Every day. It is a blessing and a curse.
I cannot help but notice everything and, I believe, the tiniest of details are there to help us see the bigger picture.