Don't Miss the Details of Life

“The pictures really don’t do it justice.  They’re pretty, but being there is gorgeous,” said Mary.

“You mean the sounds and smells?”

“Yes.  Walking across those tiny bridges and drop-offs is something to be experienced.  You need to go and hike in Oregon,” she said.

My friend’s words rang true for me.  I have always loved the details of the hikes, the trails, and the overall journey whether short or long.  The hidden highlights and shadows, the unexpected symphonies interwoven within activities, and the aromas inexplicably linked in memory are there.

The demands of life often speed up the pace, reducing these details to a blur.  It is sometimes unavoidable, and sometimes it is a choice.  The latter is a point of contention.  In this modern world, it is easy to do things the fastest way possible.  It is convenient and requires less effort.  However, what results might be a little less color and depth on the canvas reducing it to a snapshot to show without the complete experience.

During high school, some of my classmates succumbed to the use of Cliffs Notes.  I detested these abbreviated versions of literary works.  Many contended they still achieved the same grade on the information when tested, but I felt it short-changed the journey the author intended.  However, everyone is different.  Some readers prefer to read the last few pages of the novel before turning to the first chapter.  It works for them.  Personally, I like surprises.

If you have ever topped a hill to find a sunrise of unexpected brilliance or crossed a field in a swirl of butterflies taking flight in synchrony with your passage, then you understand.

It is like the difference of having a mailbox beside the door or by the road.  One is convenient, and one involves a little walk.  A nice stroll down a sidewalk or a short hike along a country path creates time for a breath of fresh air.  This little respite allows a slower perusal of nature, the neighborhood, and an appreciation of home.  The anticipation of finding something more interesting than junk mail or bills has diminished.  However, the enjoyment of the short little walk has not changed.

The responsibilities of life sometimes cause us to hurry; we keep our heads down, and as the old adage states, with noses to the grindstone.  This is necessary, but if it done without ever looking up, we miss the miraculous nuances in the journey.  They are present in the dark, as well as sunny days.

One of the most precious memories came in the middle of the night within the walls of the ICU with my mother.  Family members of ICU patients often sleep in the waiting room and wake for the limited visitation times allowed.  One of the night nurses allowed me to stay a little longer during a few of those pre-dawn visits.  Maybe she understood the true limitations of our time.

The kind nurse slipped from the room, and I held my mother’s hand.  The beeps and gushes of air from the medical equipment lent a strange accompaniment to the hymns pouring from my heart. Although the ventilator prevented her voice from joining mine, the songs reflected in her eyes, smile, and the movement of her lips.

The last few steps on the journey of life are often in a smile, a breath, or a touch without replication. Each day of our lives is precious.  Do not miss the details.

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