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Saturday, 19 August 2017

The Perception of Unimportance, the Danger of Comfort, and the Elevation of Thinkers

There is so much going on, in our own private spheres and outside of them, resulting in a culture of finding it almost too easy to dismiss the minutiae as unimportant, irrelevant, or pointless, even. But it isn't. If something matters to you, it matters. If you need to write it down, you should. Even if it sounds silly. No, especially if it sounds silly. There is a power to writing things down that cannot be replicated in any other form, so often providing the perspective we need to process and to properly digest whatever it is that has been stumbling around our minds.

My mother has a photograph of me, I must be about 5 or so, wearing a silly white sunhat and grinning gleefully surrounded by the tiny buildings of what I think must be Wimborne Model Town. It's a photograph I can't look at for too long because there's something very disconcerting about it. Photographs are already split seconds in time that can't ever be relived, and seeing myself then surrounded by a model village trapped in its own time warp is, strange. The perfectly manicured greenery, the beautifully maintained facades. It's very Stepford. Very empty.

These thoughts were prompted by an article in The Paris Review entitled The Model-Village Preservation Society, although it's something I have thought about a lot since moving to a small village in the midlands that isn't even remotely picturesque. I would be purveying a distinct untruth if I said this place feels like home, not because it's not picture perfect, but because it feels a little bit like living in a time warp. No one would rush to make a model of this village, but the absence of diversity, the questionable views now aired somewhat more freely following the abomination that is Brexit, the desire to hold on to a past which, although is seemingly etched in so many memories, probably didn't ever really exist.

Consequently I am reminded that comfort can be a dangerous thing, especially when it is at the expense of development and of acceptance. There is a dignity in change that largely disappears in the stubborn longing to hold on to something that wasn't ever real. Not really, at least. And there is a sadness in choosing not to open a door that can lead to something more, in the name of protection or preservation. Because what is really being preserved and why is it more important than progression?

In his diaries John Quincy Adams berated himself for his ignorance of things he felt he already should have known, but there is undoubtedly a beauty in seeking out knowledge even if, in that moment, we think it's something we should already have known or we aren't quite sure what to do with it, or quite what to make of it. The older I get the more I believe that the refusal to form an opinion on everything is a profound act of self care, but the refusal to contribute to the elevation of the voices of thinkers, particularly marginalised voices, is, essentially, the exact opposite. Steinbeck's dairies are a reminder that even the most accomplished writers and thinkers can be plagued with uncertainty, and this doubt, this profound challenge must only be magnified by the wildly uneven playing field which writers of colour, LGBTQ, and feminist voices still face.

And so while I could detail that during the rest of the month of August I would like to complete the reading for my next assignment (on Milton's Paradise Lost and Blake's The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, if you were curious), to stop slacking on my skincare routine, and to visit Newstead Abbey, instead I want to remember that while it may seem small, or pointless even, not to ever underestimate the power of a single comment, share, or retweet.

After all, even the smallest things shouldn't ever be overlooked.


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  1. I've been thinking a lot about what's important to me and what isn't. In the large scheme of things, none of us nor our problems are of the slightest importance. But that's no way to live. I think that apathy is... a sad thing. Every day we get to choose what is important to us, and they are all small things, and they are all worthwhile :) -Audrey | Brunch at Audrey's

  2. I loved this, Jennie. Over the last year or so I've realised how often I would feel as though I didn't know enough, and therefore was not worthy of particular things, in comparison to others who are more educated or cultured than I am. It's a slippery slope and an easy trap to fall into, but it's one I'm trying my hardest to let go of.

    I found that holding onto this thought stunted my development - especially when it came to just focusing on the things that interested me and taking my time on them as appose to feeling overwhelmed by it all. I know depression had a part to play in this, but letting go and allowing myself to progress in various ways has impacted who I am greatly! I completely agree that the smallest things shouldn't be overlooked, and that they are in fact helping me to grow! :-) xxx

  3. You may be one of the most well read people I know here. I think most people, especially as they are more accomplished, may be plagued with uncertainty because the stakes get higher. Also, yes on even the smallest things shouldn't be overlooked. They might be some of the most significant in the long run.


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