Breaking Out of Generalizations

The details. The nuance. It’s all in those tiny little delicate threads of connection, almost invisible, forming the brilliant spider web of our existence. All we are are moments. All we are are detail and nuance, and that tiny centimeter of alignment that is the difference between first place and a fractured femur bone. Yet we view our lives in generalizations – the big symphonies and the drama. The marathon and not the stride.

Every day, we are living our lives skating on the edge, we just don’t realize it unless we lose our footing. Every day, we have the smallest decisions to make and the teeniest lilt in our voice that determines our next move. It even permeates our relationships: a discovery awaits around every corner and a detail is added to your life with every hello. Yet when we view other people’s lives from the outside, we tend to process it all in the big moments. We see benchmarks and turning points and standing ovations that seem to define their lives. We fail to recognize the little idiosyncrasies and hairline fractures.

Why is it we have desensitized ourselves to nuance?

I am not saying that the big moments don’t have importance or their place. But have you ever noticed they do not come out of nowhere? Waiting and waiting and waiting for a big moment and nothing arrives? That’s because the big moments are simply a culmination -Cliff’s Notes, if you will – of all the chaptered details of your life. Details. It’s all we are.

So many times we debate as to how much of our life is in our control and how much is just the way it is. My take on it is that we have no control over circumstance – however, we have control over our level of awareness. If we keep living in a haze if generalities, in the flood and the rainstorm, we’ll miss the raindrops. We’ll miss the way our car can skip a trip to the car wash, we’ll miss the snowflake’s shape, we’ll miss the way the pavement glows and the way a kiss can change the world. We’ll look down at our cup, and we’ll find it empty.

I do not always remember big things, but the microcosms of small details within them. And now in these last few years, I feel like my entire life has been a string of minute details. I remember each small second and it engulfs me like a warm blanket. I remember each thought and decision and tiny little pathway. And, not surprisingly, this is the first time in my life I have felt truly vibrant and whole. I’m being introduced to myself in a way I’ve never known.

That edge we are skating over is always there. We can either notice and actively jump or stay oblivious and tumble off the ledge.

To live your life with a dependency on the big moments is a waste. You are so much more. Bring awareness to the detail and the nuance, the small spider web threads and the way they glisten in the rain. It’s what makes us come alive.

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  1. Katie, so wonderful. I love your notion of the minute details engulfing you like a warm blanket. Such a reminder to live in the now, fully aware of how much we have in every moment. I too have been working to shift away from living for the big things. Sounds like you beat me to the punch! So glad because now you are pointing the way for me. I have this sense that “addiction” to the big moments is rooted in fear — that we will not be taken care of, that we are not enough, that life isn’t really supporting us. But, of course, with each breath, it is, and if we can relax a bit and focus on what’s happening now, maybe we can feel that and, yes, eventually, some of those minute moments will eventually accumulate into something big — at which point we’ll discover that, as fun as that big moment is, it’s just a moment, and it’s the journey, after all, that will matter most in the end. Thanks for sharing your beautiful insights!

    • Wow, Paula – thank you for your amazing, insightful response. I am so honored my piece resonated with you. I completely agree: it is a lot easier (and a lot less scary) to focus on the big moments and can become an addiction of sorts. Tuning into the details forces us to really examine ourselves, our world, and our place in it. It takes courage to live in the details. To see the goal, yes, but to really truly let the journey happen. I am so glad you are on this path. Thank YOU for sharing.

      Katie | 10.06.2012 | Reply
  2. Such a beautiful article and a lovely read. Your metaphor about being in a haze of a rainstorm and missing the raindrops was stunning.
    I really enjoyed reading this, in fact, it has provided me an instant calm! Thank you for this positive insight and reminder to just be present in our lives. It’s easy to be invested in the future and forget where we are right now.

    Laura | 11.10.2012 | Reply
  3. Laura, your comment just made my day. I am so touched that the article could help to provide you a sense of calm, and remind yourself of what you already know – how beautiful those little details of our lives truly are 🙂 Thank you for reading and thank you for sharing!

  4. I ran the L.A. Marathon in 2004. I felt incredibly euphoric when I finished, but it was the run itself that remains one of the most vivid and beautiful experiences of my life. I was present, truly present for every footfall of those 26 miles. I did not go into the run with this intention, it just happened. Perhaps it was because I did not prepare for the marathon so I did not have time to research it and determine ahead of time what I was going to experience. I was there and I started running and about a half mile in asked myself “Can I maintain this pace for 26 miles” and I determined I could and then I was there. I was so vividly there feeling, seeing, tasting, smelling, hearing every bit of it.

    So now, 8.5 years later I find myself on another unprecedented journey that I also jumped into when the opportunity presented itself to me. Your words in this article, Katie, take me back to my marathon experience and remind me to be right here, right now, trusting and loving every step of this journey. Thank you for reminding me!

    Rebecca Gallivan | 11.11.2012 | Reply
    • I love that you are reliving the feeling of that amazing journey, Rebecca! Your comments are always so thoughtful – so happy to have you a part of the TCM community. xoxoxo

      Katie | 02.08.2013 | Reply

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