The Details

By Wilson Love

So, you’re looking for a vintage Strike King Psycho Scout, three-eighths ounce, three and a half inches, silver and black, Hard Knock rattling, deep diver crankbait (could you be more specific?). And you want it because back in 2012 you hooked the biggest bass of your life in a private pond and got him right up to the bank. He twisted off, but not before you got a really good look at him. That thing was huge; had to be close to the state record. And you lost your plug on the very next cast. Wow! Well, this is your lucky day. I just happen to have one of those right here on the bottom shelf – and it’s only five bucks.

Some version of this conversation plays out a little too often for me, except the fictitious part about actually having the thing.

Long ago I heard from one of my teachers that people tend to be either visual or haptic; that is, either view-the-big-picture oriented or hold-in-the-hand-detail oriented. Since that time, I’ve come to realize the value of this difference in folks.

If you don’t already know which side of the line you fall on, just ask yourself a few simple questions. When you pay attention to a tree or any plant, do you step back and look at it as a whole and notice how big or colorful or unusual it is? Or are you more likely to touch a particular part of it; noticing how the veins form in each leaf or how many petals each blossom has?

Recognizing this basic tendency in ourselves and others brings benefits. Consider the one who mows your lawn (if you don’t do it yourself). If he’s the detail type and you’re more visual, you may wonder why he takes so long, why doesn’t he just buzz your little patch of grass and move on quickly? But if you’re the detail man and he’s big picture; if he’s in and out of your place in a New York minute, you may be asking why he missed that crabgrass on the back side of your wife’s flower garden.

Another example: You’re fishing the lake with your buddy. His boat. His schedule. You know the drill as you ease into what looks like a really choice spot. Your buddy is a card carrying member of the Big Picture Club of America. After all, it is a big lake and you two are burning daylight. And, that’s why he bought the big fast boat in the first place…four quick casts and he’s out of there.

But wait, you’re the tactile, hands-on, methodical, every cast counts kind of fisherman. You’ve landed big ones plenty of times on the twelfth or twentieth cast. What to do?

Some options:

    1.  Talk to him.
    2. Get your own boat.
    3. Get a new buddy.

I recommend Option 1, though I can’t claim consistent success with it myself. But talking it out beats battling it out any day. Talk it out if the roles are reversed too, if you’re the visual guy dragging your haptic friend around like a sack of rocks.

This whole discussion of haptic vs. visual is pretty much lost on the digital generation. After all, everyone is walking around with a warm and fuzzy “touch me” device on their person. So you’d think the differences in my two subject groups would be harder to spot now than in the past.

Not really.

The contrast is between someone who learns better from observation (visual) or demonstration (haptic). Are you able to understand how a reel works by looking at a schematic or parts diagram, or would you want to disassemble it yourself to see its function? That’s the distinction. Again, this is about our tendencies, not compulsions. It’s not one hundred percent trackable, and who cares? I look at it as a relational tool.

And if this teaching is discarded, replaced by something modern and trendy, that doesn’t mean its value is gone, only its popularity. Like most ancient wisdom, it still works if you work it. For instance, I’ll seek out a visual/big picture individual for legal advice and a hands-on haptic to build my deck.

By the way, if you’re married and one of you is one way and the other is the other way, just know that is part of God’s plan for you. The idea is that you complete each other, not compete with each other. (Col. 3:19)

Wilson Love is Owner/Operator of The Practical Outdoorsman.