My student and I are in a Chinese lesson.
We are in the middle of doing a Tingxie (a dictation) and they have written the same characters 3 or 4 times already, trying to get it right.
On the latest try, my student nearly succeeds - but then erases it and starts again with a sigh.
Even I sigh this time!
“You don’t have to write it again, it’s ok!”, I say. I can see they got it almost right.
“No Laoshi, I must. Remember, you told me the direction of the lines and the order matters... (Side note: this is another moment where my student becomes my teacher). Let me just write it one... more.... time.”
And this time, they get the tiny detail right.
In Chinese characters it is true that the details of every single one matter.
Not just the lines themselves, but even the direction in which you write the lines matter.
The details are important.
I feel this is true of life, too.
The details - the little things - are actually the big things.
The tiny details of your daily life, actions, relationships and thoughts, they add up to big things in the end.
The details make our lives - and the lives of others - meaningful and fascinating.
Details separate out people from people, and character from characters.
I think our minds have a magnifying glass that is constantly searching and scanning.
And the mind naturally zones in on details unless you take control and point this powerful magnifying glass intentionally.
This is why a teacher is so important.
They decide precisely which detail(s) to have students pay attention to, and when to focus on them.
This simple decision has the power to totally speed up or slow down a student's progress.
It is also why friends, family, and the ones you give your time to each day, are so important.
They can both expand and restrict what the magnifying glass of your mind sees, and even what your heart feels.
In both negative, and positive ways, and often without you realising it.
And when all is said and done, and especially when you lose someone, it is the little moments and details you remember and miss the most about them.
More and more, I feel the art of life, learning, and any success we feel from it seems to exist in paying attention to the details:
The details of your days.
Of your work.
Of your closest relationships.
And of course, of Chinese characters. ;)