“It’s all in the details!” The lady offering this time-honored adage was wiping the spare droplets of water from her car she’d just washed.
Not accustomed to people paying such care to a vehicle, I had asked about her actions while sharing adjoining gas pumps at a filling station.
Seems she’d had the vehicle for seven years, made a point to keep it serviced and clean. Did what she could herself; “details” such as wiping the car down after a wash.
Made me feel bad. During our chance meeting; she out running chores, myself with my wife headed to the trout streams, I had found we were both retired educators.
She had a seven-year-old vehicle she kept immaculate. I had a two-year-old one that has been washed twice.
I keep enough debris from the floorboards my feet can find the pedals; enough from the bed it will hold camp wood, folding chairs and fishing rods.
Fueled and back on the road, I thought back to the pleasant lady’s comment.
The importance of details. From French novelist Gustave Flaubert’s penning “…the Lord is in the details…” to coach Lou Holtz’s observation that “in the successful organization, no detail is too small to escape close attention.”
In between, the David O. Selznick who gave us Gone with the Wind noted “the success of a production depends on the attention paid to detail.”
American diplomat and one-time Secretary of State John Foster Dulles believed “a man’s accomplishments in life are the cumulative effect of his attention to detail.”
Decades before him, clergyman Charles R. Swindoll discerned the “difference between something good and something great is attention to detail.”
I pondered the fellow pedagogues’ thoughts quite a lot. Applied them to what we were about to do. Fish.
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The sharpness of the hook can make all the difference in the hookset. A few minutes spent honing the hook-tips of flies and lures is always time well spent.
As is the tying of the knot. Lots of six- and ten-pound lines are broken at one-pound knots or places of abrasion. One should always wet the line before tightening a knot to avoid stressing the line and hence weakening the new knot.
Re-tying after a particularly hard fight or if pliers hit the line while removing a hook is a good practice. Fishing with four-pound line makes such care essential.
I have always considered fishing a wonderful metaphor for life. It re-unites one with nature. It is best enjoyed when the process is at least equally as important as the product — the results.
It teaches and reinforces the importance of detail. One could say the same of most outdoor activities.
Hiking twenty miles emphasizes the consequence of such little tasks as shoe and sock selection, along with correctly tying one’s laces.
Open-air camping in freezing temperatures brings home the significance of attending to site preparation and fuel gathering.
In such situations, nature can be quite unforgiving of lackadaisical effort and slovenly endeavor.
I cannot help but think that much of the chaos we seem to accept as the norm is the result of our disengagement from an environment that holds us accountable for half-truths and indiscriminate proclamations.
A media that no longer requires truth and honor and a political system that treats both as strangers.
The difference between good and great. It truly is all in the details.
(Rick Mansfield can be reached at email@example.com.)