The best and worst things in life. They trip you up, if missed. They redeem your soul, if marked.
This isn’t a New Year’s resolution. I don’t do them, as a rule.
Nor is it a review of the year, or an anticipation of the one we’re entering. If the past couple of years have shown us anything, it’s that foresight is, for most of us at least, a mug’s game.
No. It’s a very short musing on the one thing that has both screwed me and saved me over the mad months we’ve gone through. And that’s detail.
From a professional perspective, of course, this isn’t news. Central to the work of the professional advocate is a mastery of detail. We’ve all lost cases because the import of some point, spotted by the other side in hundreds or thousands of pages of evidence, somehow passed us by. And equally, we’ve all come across that one critical item (occasionally in a final read-through on the train to court) which puts everything else into a winning context. Not in every case, of course. But more often than one might think.
But personally too. There have been times amid the madness when I’ve found myself pulling in. Closing down my peripheral vision, my proprioception. Letting my natural introversion (and I wonder – prompted by the comments at least half a dozen people close to me – possibly a smidge of being on the spectrum too) overtake me, blotting out little things that others do, or say, or leave undone or unsaid. Missing those critical little details which if spotted would scream, to an actively-listening mind, that someone else’s inner state needs to be attended to.
That way leads to isolation. Sadness for self and others.
Just as bad: when one walks down the road so absorbed in oneself that one misses the tiny details that feed your soul. Winter morning light on the river. A song drifting from a window that you’ve not heard for a decade or two. An innocent smile from a stranger whom you let pass. The things which may only ease your burden by a few grammes – but they add up.
Particularly when the big picture can be so dark, so unpredictable, so damned foolish and selfish much of the time, it seems to me that the details are still more important. Professional. Personal. Environmental.
OK. So maybe a bit of a resolution. Make time for the details. My soul will be the better for it. Perhaps yours will too.
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