Noticing the trees among the forest

Its been two months now that I’ve lived in Seattle. This is strange to me because my body still feels like it stepped off the plane yesterday. During this time, I’ve been mocked by a robot giving driving directions to a climbing gym, run a half marathon alone in temperatures below 0 and won (and cooked) a turkey.

So far so good.

Today, a big chunk of my waking life is spent at Amazon. I’m on the elastic load balancing (ELB) team and meine arbeit involves working with asynchronous backend monitoring systems. This is a job that requires much attention to detail as one bad configuration could cause a big chunk of the interwebs to go dark.

If you know me at all, you’ll know that I’m not a big fan of details.

They say that the devil is in the details and this credo I have lived by practically all my life. In my mind, details are hundred page legalese that chip away at the soul with all the frenzy of a woodpecker from hell. Details are all the reasons why something can’t be done. They are decoys to a meaningful life.

But I’m starting to change my mind.

Details are also other things. They are the reason why not everything is the same. The specific details within each person give us that thing we call individuality. And it really is just a detail. If we share 99% of our DNA with chimpanzees, just imagine how similar we must be with everyone else. What distinguishes the greatest among us are details.

I think what bothers me about details are the sheer number of them. There are infinite things in the universe that have infinite details with infinite details about those details etc (for infinite). It’s infinitely infinities to many.

It seems too easy to lose myself among the details. Committing to any one truth seems to close the doors on countless more. Quoting Nemo in “Mr. Nobody” (great film, highly recommended, may or may not be available on youtube):

“You have to make the right choice. As long as you don’t choose, everything remains possible.”

But there comes a time when you have to make a choice. Details don’t just go away (but you will one day).

But maybe choosing isn’t the worst thing in the world. Like walking out from a dark room into a sunny day, you first need to squint and focus on specifics before you can start making out the world. Details turn the fuzzy into a reality, create oneness out of multitudes.

In the end, it’s not just the devil that’s in the details. Its everything.

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