It’s Monday (when I’m writing this post, that is), and my train is 59 minutes late, which means I now have a 40 minute wait for the next train, followed by a 90 minute journey, which will get me to my destination 15 minutes late, for a workshop that will take at least 30 minutes preparation. This is something about which I will not get stressed, instead I will remain stoic – there is nothing more I can do, other than phone ahead and explain the situation. Welcome to – all too frequently – my world.
How we deal with life’s little misadventures is revealing, and whilst my preferred option is as stated above – and it’s one that I’d recommend to anyone, I realise that there are alternatives. There are those who will kick up a fuss, shout the odds and raise hell when things go wrong, and I’m sure it’s very cathartic, although in real problem solving terms it probably has about as much effect as my stoicism.
What does irritate me though is a half-hearted response. On my way to the station this morning I was passed by a woman who was quite obviously running late. I say running, but it was more a lacklustre, utterly pathetic, unimpressive semi jog. You could feel her inner conflict: ‘I’m horribly late… But I don’t want to make a spectacle of myself… But if I don’t, I’ll miss my train… But I’m really not built for speed…’
If you’re running late, then do it with style I say. Either take my approach and grin and bear it, knowing that the hand of fate has ruthlessly swatted you like an annoying mosquito. Or, pull out all the stops and take fate on at its own game… Run like hell, arms flailing, hair flying, as if being chased by rabid dogs! But please, for the love of all that is righteous, whatever you do, don’t do it half-heartedly.
The world in which we live has become one of mediocrity and banality. We seem to live in a state of constant fear that if we don’t make some sort of effort we’ll be criticised, yet constrained by propriety and the dreaded spectre of political correctness gone mad, we shy away from trying too hard. We give it our best, albeit extremely half-heartedly and barely try at all. It’s a world where we’re no longer allowed to hold strong opinions; a world where people can manage to take offence at the most ridiculous imagined slight – and can even have it backed up by law. It’s a world where you can’t be ‘different’ any more, because everybody is entitled to be treated the same, even if they clearly are different, and may wish to be treated so; a world where overtolerance is the order of the day and where nobody is allowed to say what they are thinking.
If there’s one thing we can cling to in SL, it is that it is still a bastion of good old fashioned opinion, drama, inappropriateness, and even bigotry. I’m not saying that all are good, acceptable or right, but at least they’re not hidden away, unchallenged and unspoken. I’ve always believed that it’s good to talk; that people’s beliefs, whether politically incorrect, distasteful or obnoxious are still their beliefs, and simply telling someone they are wrong, or pretending their views somehow don’t exist is never going to change them.
If there’s one thing you can say about SL, it’s not mediocre or half-hearted… It’s never going to be that woman pretending she’s trying to run for her train: Giving the impression of trying, but in reality, making no real effort at all.
If you’re going to do life, I say do it with vigour, or at the very least, accept its challenges and alternatives with pragmatism and honesty, because real life should be more like SL sometimes, but somehow we’ve let it become more like Disneyland… Saccharine, over-romanticised, desperately inoffensive, sickly sweet blandness.
And frankly, that’s just boring!
So now you’re old, you’re wise, you’re smart
You’re just a man with half a heart
You wonder how it might have been
Had you not cast your fate to the wind
The Vince Guaraldi Trio – Cast Your Fate To The Wind