Monday, October 25, 2010
It’s fast becoming one of our favorite phrases. Absurdity seems to demand a light touch. Recognizing the meaningless of it all and the soap bubble nature of our existence means you see a lot of people making a big to do over nothing….
Next time you see someone getting all bent of shape about something, throw in a so what and see what happens. It’s like a sort of mental grenade that, upon impact, makes the other person stop in their mental track.
We did this to the wife recently, when she seemed to go apeshit because our son forgot some homework. “So what?” we said. If you say enough “so what’s” the other person can’t help but get a little existential. At least for a moment.
A pause followed… “He’ll get a zero if he doesn’t turn it in.”
“But again, so what?” we said. “He missed a homework assignment. It’s not worth getting all upset about.”
People seem to get most un-absurd about their kids. Especially the moms. We always thought the old advice from D.H. Lawrence has great merit:
“Take all due care of him, materially; give him all the care and tenderness and wrath which the spontaneous soul emits: but always, always, at the very quick, leave him alone. He is never to be merged into you nor you into him.”
With their mom away one weekend, we put DHL’s advice into play. We let them sleep in. We let them find their own ways to occupy themselves. We gently reminded them of their responsibilities for the day and let them sort out when they would do them. It worked rather well. The stress level was zero for both kids and dad.
Well, whatever… we don’t mean to give serious advice of any kind on child-raising. We simply point out that most people take themselves and their kids deathly serious. And they shouldn’t. Life is absurd. That includes kids and family.
We also find the “so what” exercise good for ourselves. Faced with an unexpected setback at work recently, we found ourselves saying “so what.” Just saying it and working out what might happen seemed to immediately cast the setback in its proper light – which is, that it is nothing worth getting upset over.
Steeped in the absurd, we find it hard to take much of anything too seriously. It’s as if it’s all unreal somehow.
Anyway, we’ve found the “so what” question a useful one for maintaining that sense of equanimity. Use it and see what happens. We think you’ll find that if you ask it enough, life’s absurd colors come out a little brighter.
Posted by Inigo Montoya at 11:47 AM