By Rebecca Reynolds
I was talking about penises and vaginas to a young person at Twenty10 the other morning. She told me she could never talk to her mother about “these kinds of things”. When I asked her about what she meant, thinking she was going to say sex or sexuality, she replied she couldn’t ever talk to her mother about “the details”. All the bits and pieces that make up our minutes, hours and days.
I realised I’m not so great at talking about the details either — a disconcerting realisation. If I’m not taking time to reflect on the good and the bad details of my day, what am I missing? When days blend into each other without conscious thought, the details tend to get lost and that, after all, is where life happens.
Last week I read in The Washington Post about a performance by world-class violinist Joshua Bell. His performance was arranged by the newspaper as an experiment in ‘context, perception and priorities’ and was set in an indoor arcade at rush hour. For an hour, Bell played some of the world’s finest music on a Stradivarius violin, dressed in street clothes, case open on the ground in front of him like any street musician.
The question the Post asked was this: Would people stop and pay attention? What details would they notice — his appearance or his art? Would they interrupt their stream of (un)conscious long enough to note the significance of what they were seeing? The answer was a resounding ‘No’. Bell was given a little over US$30 and during the hour, only one person stopped to listen to him. Everyone just kept moving.
And that is what we are in danger of doing as the world runs at us and throws new challenges. To stop and reflect is to risk being thrown out of our daily routine. To stop and think about the little details, or to hear someone else’s, is sometimes far harder.
But worse still, in my mind, is when people think you are not interested in their details. That’s when you really run a risk — the risk of missing out on something special, something beautiful, something amazingly real.