Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Meaning is in the Details

I'm a hopeless Romantic. Given the choice, I'd live in the Victorian Era, ( if not for the scary medical practices). What I love most about this time is the great attention to detail in every aspect of life. Time and effort have value, even more so today, because life feels rushed. I often find myself stuck on minutia, planning for days for one special moment, or taking hours to complete a project. Some might call this perfectionism, but I call it nostalgia.
German architect and leader of the Bauhaus movement, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe pushed society away from detail when he declared that "Less is More." As far as I'm concerned, that comment, along with the invention of plastic, was an attempt to ruin the quality of life for future generations. I think that less is just...less. The way society has suffered as a result of this statement proves it. I know I'm not alone in craving details. Recent marketing trends reflect a longing among the general population for details. The most expensive things are handmade, or personalized in one way or another. Antiques are hotter than ever.
Vintage things reflect an old-fashioned perspective about life, a slower time when objects were made with more care. They hint at an extinct attitude, when passing strangers greeted you, more often than not. People noticed you struggling and held a door. Society was "unplugged" and observant. Did this time ever really exist, or is it just a nostalgic fantasy? I know it did, because every once in a while I get a glimpse of this past world. I see people behaving politely.

Today, for example, I was going to Panera Bread for lunch. I had Baby Bigfoot in the stroller and I was crossing the street. A lady, well-dressed, obviously on a lunch break, greeted me in the road, and asked where I was heading. She told me that she would hold the door for me. "Oh, thank you, but I'm going all the way to the end of the chain of stores, to Panera," I said, not wanting to bother her. "Good, that's where I'm headed too," said the woman. As we walked we discussed our favorites on the Panera lunch menu, and I discovered that she shared my obsession with soups in bread bowls. Our conversation lasted maybe five minutes, but that stranger made my day. Her simple pause, and choice to interact with me was a unique gift of kindness. It was a detail in her day, but it made an impression on me. It bolstered my hope that the detailed perspective is alive and well, because extra effort is a loving action.
Last year I embarked on a project that launched a new hobby for me. My mother, the origin of my love of detail, purchased a broken, moldy doll house for my daughter, and I refinished it. It came out beautiful, and restoring it was so relaxing and enjoyable for me. It wasn't easy to get supplies to fix this handmade toy. During the project, two miniature shops that were around for years closed. I had to order a new staircase, and a lot of furniture online. Although it was tiny, it wasn't cheap, because making miniatures by hand is a dying art. This past week the princess got to put her doll house into her room; she is finally old enough to be trusted with the little pieces. She treasures it, not just because it is one of a kind, but because I made it for her. We have to bring back the details, and love others, one small action at a time.

“We can do no great things - only small things with great love.”- Mother Theresa


Elizabeth Kathryn Gerold-Miller said...

Too true! I've been reading L.M. Montgomery exclusively since August because things were so quiet, so human, so detailed, so homemade. I think I have that same miniature couch. My mom bought some furniture in the gift shop at Teddy Roosevelt's house when I was a kid. She built me a house that later got ruined by my little siblings. I too am waiting until my little one gets bigger before I refinish a handmade house and put my old furniture back in.

cathytejano said...

the doll house is so beautiful..
nice blog you got here..
and thanks for visiting my blog too.. :)

Dear Internet Traveler,

Welcome to my writer's blog, started about six years ago for fun. Over time, the writing I have posted has ranged from personal reflection, to Long Island history research, to tall tales for my own amusement, to feature articles for local newspapers. As you can see from topics listed here, I travel in many mental directions in regard to interests. Click on the tabs and labels to explore my strange mind which senses that you may be having a criss-cross day. If so, perhaps this blog will distract you. However, please note that if you tell me my blog is beautiful just to get me to advertise rhinoplasty surgery and cheap drugs from Canada in your comment, I will ask the gods to give you a tail that cannot be concealed.


Loren Christie

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