The word for today’s post is meticulosity. It means “taking extreme care over the details.” It’s the word that came to mind when I looked down on the luminous mandala you see in this photo.
Drepung Loseling monks from South India created this intricate sand mandala in the Collins Gallery of the Multnomah County Library here in Portland. The mandala invokes the Buddha of compassion. Over a period of four days, they took extreme care with the fine details that make this work glow. It amazes me what something as simple as grains of sand can become when infused with human creativity, shaped by human hands, honored in human hearts. Grain by grain, color by color, prayer by prayer, the monks fashioned this transcendent image.
In much the same way, writers craft stories that can transcend the black type with which they’re composed. But, sometimes we writers forget meticulosity. We forget artistry. We forget color. We forget to call down blessings so that what we write will share something true about what it means to be human.
Today, look at what you’re writing and ask the hard questions: Am I as meticulous with my writing as the Drepung Losely monks are with their sand-painting? What of value does this add to human discourse? What does it illuminate? What of this comes from my heart?
These questions may scare you. They scare me! In fact, they can be scary enough to keep us from writing. So, after answering them, move on to the details of craft: Do I bring enough color to the work? Am I triggering the reader’s sensory memories? Do the parts come together to make a pleasing picture?
And finally: Does this act of creation bring me joy?
I don’t know about you, but I’ve never seen a Buddhist monk who wasn’t smiling. They look as if they’ve chosen a path that brings them joy. Maybe they smile because they walk that path with meticulosity.
Be meticulous. Be “present” in every word, every line, every story you write, and may the Buddha of compassion smile on your writing!