Playing fast and loose with the word “wisdom”: A listicle.

Wisdom gained after having been in the city 6 months:

One:

Refused to take plastic bag from grocery store this week even though had forgotten to bring own bag. Carrying groceries home in arms like misshapen infant, dropped bottle of Kraft salad dressing. Accidentally kicked bottle halfway down the street. Bottle completely unscathed. Congratulations on your extremely durable salad dressing bottles, Kraft.

Wisdom gained: in apocalypse, build shelter of Kraft bottles. Possible advantage of having a lot of condiments in case of having to eat other survivors.

Two:

It’s hard to make friends. It’s easy to meet a lot of people and be friendly to them. How does an adult make a friend? My first friend and I became friends because she liked to pretend that she was a dog and I liked to pretend that I was a dog owner. I don’t think this would qualify as a basis for adult friendship, and even if it did, I’m not that into dogs.

Wisdom gained: Steer clear of bestial tendencies, even at the price of urban alienation.

Three:

Dating everyone who asks you out on public transit, Tinder, at the bar is an ineffective method of making friends. It might actually make you negative friends, if you count all the people in your current city who have a latent, unfocused dislike for you as minuses.

Wisdom gained: Be nice to men, they’re people too.

Four:

Being a person is hard. As a person who loves fiction, I think it’s easy to have heavy illusions about this particular fact.

Being a character is easy. Someone gives you a unique sense of style, and an apartment with pictures in it, and hobbies, and the ability to discern between different types of wine and cigars, they give you quirks that make you charming and flaws that make you relatable and then they give you other characters to interact with that are fascinating and say fascinating things that allow you to respond in fascinating ways, and then they propel your narrative forward in highly destructive ways that totally mess up the personhood that they have built for you because that is more compelling to the audience and after all you are just this character that they have built and it wasn’t that hard to build you.

If you are not a character but a real human being, you have to find and do all of this stuff by yourself and you have to make it stable, you have to nail those pictures firmly onto the walls because when you inevitably do something to blow it all up you want there to be a few remnants, a few constants to keep your feet on the ground. If all the extras walk out on you, the set will still be there.

Wisdom gained: It’s really difficult to make conscious choices about the kind of person you want to be and then follow through on them. It might even be impossible. It is much easier to throw your hands in the air and accept that you are an unshapeable blob. The glory is in the struggle and I’m so lazy, it’s really hard for me to accept that.

Side thought: Social media is terrible because it gives everyone the ability to be a character, to advertise or fabricate the things that make them fascinating and to sweep all evidence of explosions under the rug and then you’re standing in your metaphorical head-space living room looking at all the little piles of shit on your own rug and wondering why you’re the only one whose apartment is a perpetual disaster. Also where did you pick up that friend that likes to pretend he’s a dog, and how can you get him to stop shitting in your living room?  

Five:

If you’re trying to compile a list, you should stick to a format where each item on the list is of approximately the same size and has an identifiable, repetitive structure. This will not only give your reader an anticipation of what is coming next, providing momentum to continue reading your highly accessible, compelling and fascinating list, but will also mask any bias you feel towards any particular item on the list, thus allowing you to appear logical, stable, and detached. If you lose sight of your list’s structure and, for example, write an entire half-page for a single item, it will be apparent to your reader that you are not actually writing an informative list that people other than yourself should care about. They will know that you are just ranting but with some numbers in the left-hand margin.

Wisdom gained: listicles not viable format for blog posts.

Six:

Fall is the most commercial of seasons. The leaves change colour and all of a sudden I feel compelled to buy pumpkin things and new sweaters. I have tried on so many sweaters in the past two weeks. I have ramped up my job-applying game with the actual motivation of wanting to buy new sweaters. And maybe a pair of really cute short boots. I want to give someone some of my money so that I can do the work of picking produce for myself. I want to spend a perfect autumn afternoon buying coffee after coffee in a cozy coffee shop, preferably wearing an artsy new scarf. I want to pay Justin Vernon for whatever mumbled prophecy he’s birthed recently and then use it as the focal point of a playlist that I will call simply “Fall, <3”. I want to wear so many layers. I need more clothes, just in sheer quantity, to allow for the amount of layers I want to wear.

Wisdom gained: Being poor gives you insight into how much your desires and associations are fuelled by advertising. Having to deny yourself makes you realize that a lot of the things you want are stupid.

Seven:

Fall might also be the most couple-y of seasons. Why is everyone so in love all of a sudden?

Wisdom gained: Am choosing to see the need to be part of a couple as a facet of seasonally associative corporate brainwashing. See above re: nonsensical, easily dismissed desires.

Eight:

Keeping a reading diary is an awesome thing! Everyone should keep a reading diary. I found mine from my formative years and was surprised by how much smarter 14-year-old me was than I remember, which was pleasant, and I decided to revive the habit, although I am just now realizing that it may lead to the unfortunate discovery that I am now dumber than I was as a teenager. In any case, writing down the things you think about the things you read is very rewarding, as it turns out.

Wisdom gained: End list on a positive note with some helpful advice. Hopefully theoretical reader will forget middle, unrelated, unintentionally emotionally revealing section of list.    

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