Sunday, May 22, 2011

“You Need Not Take Everything So Seriously.”

If I had a dollar for every time someone said that to me, I’d have a lot of Starbucks coffee drinks, or a couple bottles of wine. I didn’t get a dollar each time that was said, and I’ve still had quite a few coffees and wines in my belly.

            I heard you the first time.

            The first time someone said it to me I was sitting, no I was squatting, face-to-the-wall, on my bed talking on the phone to my childhood babysitter. I might have been twelve. I’m certain I was going on and on about something that seemed delicately important at the time, and then the words, “You need not take everything so seriously.”

            The pleaser in me swallowed hard, felt the “knot” in my throat that meant I might cry if I wasn’t careful, and so I said, “I know.”

            And, I did know, I just also knew that knowing that wasn’t going to change thing. I would, and have, taken everything seriously since then; except, maybe, some of the things that I really should have taken seriously. You know, like undergraduate grades and first dates, and long-term relationships, and really meaning to say “I’m sorry,” instead of just saying it. That stuff seemed to just jettison from me without going through the entire social-penetration process. I mean, I may have just met you at the grocery store or through a mutual friend, and within minutes I might be telling you my whole story, emotional and all. Doing that, somehow, probably, anyway, lessened the intensity and truthfulness of the relationships I deemed to be closest. I mean, if my best friends are the ones who are supposed to know all that stuff, and I’m also telling everyone else, then what the hell am I doing?

This is how this works. I start thinking about something that has really no bearing on anything and then discover that it does by thinking about it just a little bit more.

“Stop thinking.”

If I had a dollar for every time someone said that to me, I’d probably be able to pay off my student loan that helped me earn a Master’s degree; which, by the way, required a lot of thinking in order to complete.

In philosophy, which I almost double-majored in, and in graduate school as well as work training I was taught to have a reason for my actions; to be able to explain why I did what I did when asked. Then, combine that with graduate school and two years and twelve classes and some hundred and forty-four discussions of seeing the sentence: “Explain,” explaining just becomes second nature.

As example, the other day someone said to me, “Oh, I see you like red wine.”

I, ready and prepared to answer couldn’t just stop at yes. So, I said, “Yes, because it has such a wide range. There are light reds and then deeper and bolder reds, but I’m really into Malbec these days.” Who the heck wanted to know that? I don’t know, but I told them anyway.

Then, sometimes, this is what happens. That person then says, “Yes, Malbec’s are really great,” almost as a way to put an end to the conversation. If I’m paying attention, my response is simply, “I know.”
“I know,” by the way is a phrase that I’ve said quite often, whether I know or not is another question. I’m certain, though, if you asked my Mom how many times I said that phrase, she’d say that she’d have enough dollars to buy me a lifetime of airline miles to come and visit as often as possible.

Speaking of Mom, her birthday is on Tuesday. Happy Birthday, Mom.

Here it goes: “I know you wish I could be with you, but at least you were just here recently and I’ll see you soon.”
To which, someone else might say I need not take that so seriously.

And, I, of course, would say, “I know, but…” and explain why I do, in fact, take that seriously.

1 comment:

  1. I feel like people say these phrases as a way of keeping us from feeling what we really want to feel, acting the way we really want to act and being who we really need to be. They are such trite sentiments that really make me so upset. Annie, be you. Take anything as seriously as you want. Think as much as you want. And say and know whatever you please. xo.


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