The Devil in the Detail


Recently life has been asking me to look more closely at what I do and how I am.

It is calling out for me to pay more attention to the detail – for example; not just what I write, but how I am when I write, not just what I eat, but how I am when I eat, not just what I do in any given moment, but how I am when doing this.

I have begun to realise that my relationship with detail has been somewhat inconsistent and that, at times, I have thought of ‘detail’ as the enemy. Detail was those frustrating ‘fiddly’ elements that had to be put up with to get done what was needed.

So more recently I have been looking at the detail of my relationship with the detail.

Growing up, detail was where the conflict lay. Control, arguments and manipulation lay in the detail. At school the detail was the difference between passing and failing, between the smart kids and the not so smart kids.


Detail was sold as where the path to your future lay. In business, the detail was where people would try to ‘pull a swiftie’ and play a trick on you.

Then, looking at society overall, I realised we had the saying that “the devil is in the detail.”

It began to make no sense – why would I look at the detail with a sense of panic, fear or dread?


Of course, as with so many things in life, it turns out that the opposite is true. It is not the devil that lives in the detail, but love. It’s the care I take in each moment that adds to the ease with which I will take my next step.


It’s the way I leave a task, job or project that will determine the ease with which I, or someone else, will pick it up again. It is the understanding I can bring to why I make the choices I make that frees the control that my past patterns had.

In these ways, the detail holds the key to our freedom, not only in this moment, but in the next as well.

Detail, like a drop of water running down a leaf, cleans and magnifies what is beneath. Detail, like a breeze on a hot day, refreshes and changes how I feel about a current circumstance. The circumstance doesn’t change, but how I relate to it does.


There is detail in everything.


Even the breath I take while writing this sentence is filled with detail – there is a warmth, a depth, that I can choose to observe. If I do this, it brings awareness to my muscles and whole body. In fact, all of how I am in life right now gets shown to me in that moment.

Imagine that – all of life reflected in one moment. This doesn’t sound like the work of the devil, but rather the all-encompassing love of Divinity.

© 2012 - Joel Levin. All rights reserved, may not be reproduced without permission

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