Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Smallest Little Thing

     I once wrote about sweating the small stuff. I came out against it, but sometimes you cannot help it. Let me give you an example. A short time ago Dingo said something to me that has been rattling around my head since she said it. It was a rather insignificant thing, but there was one word, one little, tiny, seemingly innocuous word that caused that sentence to lodge deeply in a very prominent part of my noggin. It's been in there, rolling around like a little chickpea and sounding like a rattle every time I move. Except the rattle echos, and before you know it, by the time it hits my eardrum, it's more like a roar. I am not really sweating it as such, I am not getting all riled up about it. It has just struck me how big of an influence one little word can be.
     I am sure you've experienced it too. Somebody says something to you that contains one little word bomb that sets everything off inside your life. Sometimes it's meant to be a word bomb. For instance, if you were really close with someone but then you accidentally left the front door open and they are really mad and so when you go meet their college friends they say "Oh, this is Allison. She was my best friend." Amazing how substituting that "was" for the usual "is" can really drive a point home, isn't it? So on and so forth. Maybe it isn't that deliberate. Let's say that your boss always introduced you to people like this: "This is Allison, she is our new sales assistant." Then, all the sudden it becomes "This is Allison, our sales assistant." Hmmm...sounds like you aren't new anymore. It wasn't intended by the boss to be such a big thing, but all the sudden the honeymoon and the grace period are over. Mistakes aren't tolerated anymore. The learning period is over and you are on your own. See what I mean? Do you see the power of that one little ommission?
     Now I am not suggesting that we all need to ratchet up the personal censorship and submit everything we intend to say to a focus group of our peers in writing for analysis before we say it. That's a bit extreme. I am simply preaching public awareness. It has happened in the past and it will happen in the future, so be ready for it. There is going to be a point where you are standing at the bus stop thinking "He said 'artist!' He thinks I am an artist! I'm not just a painter anymore!" or whatever. That one small difference, that one small set of syllables has put you up on cloud nine and brought with it all sorts of weight and connotation. And now there you stand, attempting to rectify these new changes withing the big picture. And it's scary and it's hard. But it is going to happen. Just like puberty or the flood, it is going to come and you are going to be totally unprepared for it and it's going to radically alter your world, at least for a time. It's okay to let it effect you, but don't sweat it. That's not healthy. Consider it, let it percolate in the back of your mind, but please do not sweat it. Let it rattle around but don't let it rattle you. That's not healthy. Just sort of take it for what it is and remember that Dingo didn't mean to set you spinning like that.
     Now, if you will excuse me, all I can hear is that word rattling around in my head and it's driving me crazy!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

So I am curious David John.....what is it that i said?!?!