One of my greatest pleasures in life is noticing detail.
Have you ever been sitting at a table, drinking your coffee, biting into your cake, and just noticed the detail?
The simple but elegant working of the table leg.
The swirl on the icing of the carrot cake.
The hint of chocolate in the flavour of the coffee.
The pattern on the table cloth.
I once sat in a boat, in the middle of the Indian Ocean, for 15 minutes examining the chair I was seated upon. It was handmade (as was the boat). It was simple (as was the boat). Yet the maker, for no reason than that he or she could, had carved small, patterns into the chair, obscurely and without fanfare. The blue of the sky and the ocean was beyond beautiful, but the very human touch on the chair fascinated me.
The incomparable Taj Mahal, the countless temples of Bhaktapur and the immensity of the Sagrada Familia. Stand there, in awe at the creativity of humanity, drinking in the vista with eye and mind. Go in closer, until left with only the detail; the intricate and delicate carvings, the bombastic designs, the minute choices in the shade and colour of the marble and stone.
Details are often invisible, often disregarded and overlooked. Yet, for me, it is often these touches that speak more of the endeavour and creativity of the craftsmen and women involved, those countless small moments of inspiration that add up to something more.
So I try to remember the details within the whole, to run my eyes along the curve of this, the straight of that; to trace and race along patterns and carvings and painted lines; to feel beneath my fingertips the texture of stone or cloth or wood; to smell and taste all the subtleties amongst the entirety of the flavour; to hear the timbre of a bell, to listen to the flapping of prayer flags as their colours dance madly to the wind.
I like to think of these details, of the effort and care behind them, and of the natural ones, where the world has conspired to exhibit an endless ocean of detail, say, in something as ‘mundane’ as a field of grass. I like to think of the pleasure the craftsperson had in a job well done, whether it is the intricate frame of a window, or the little crunch of nuts in a muffin, or the haunting sound of an 1832 cello played well.
I like to hunt the detail, whether it is in my writing or in my photography. I love to find it, explore it, experience it. For me, detail is as important as the whole and always will be.