1/5/15 On The Importance of Having Something to Say

We all have something to say, and that’s important, though few of us have anything to say that’s as important as our perception leads us to think.

I read through some of WordPress’ Editor’s Picks for 2014. I was more than a bit disappointed. Of course, nothing I wrote made it into the top ten list, which was not unexpected, but the ones that did were underwhelming and puffed up with their own self-importance, spoke to limited groups, weren’t a bit funny, and frankly, were more than a bit tedious to read through their anger and angst. Most of them must have been written by teenagers. You can read them here, if you’re of a mind: https://en.blog.wordpress.com/2014/12/17/editors-picks-2014/

Keep in mind that few of us WordPresser’s are professional writers, and even fewer of us have anything of earthshaking importance to say, perhaps none of us. Most of us ramble on about personal things, sort of like a personal memoir, one in which nothing notable has been achieved and is thus communicated to us in all it’s un-notable-ness, which is not easy to do. How to impress me with the importance of your personal inner struggle does not begin by telling me how important it is; if it is important, I will be able to discern that for myself.

Not only do we suffer from a lack of important things to say, we inflict the redundancy on our readers of having nothing new to say, either. There are few things being said, anywhere, in any medium, that have not been said before. Some suddenly come into vogue and then just as suddenly go out of style on a regular basis, as reliable as the blue moon, occurring every once in a while but with predictability, and others as rare as an appearance of Halley’s comet, which was not so appear-able in its 1986 pass by the Earth. I had lusted after Halley’s appearance, the famous comet that was in full blaze when Mark Twain was born, and in full blaze 76 years later when he died. In 1986 it was a dud, at least from my part of rural Mississippi. All the important things astronomers had been telling us for years about Halley’s Comet came to naught, as we were told it would barely be visible in 1986. It was not visible at all to me, and I diligently looked for it. To go from a glorious blaze in the sky to invisible is quite a change of circumstance. Of course, Halley had not changed its glory as it approached the sun in 1986, but my perception of it was blocked, thwarted, tainted, or otherwise diminished. It was not Halley’s fault. Halley just did what it did. I expect it was the bad press I had read over my lifetime, you know, the bad press that led me to believe that a cosmic fireball would blaze across the sky with me gazing up at it in fear and wonder. Sometimes, even the experts have nothing important to say, and the explanations for Halley’s poor 1986 performance seemed obscurely located in section D, page 21 of the major newspapers, right before the legal publications.

I definitely have something to say, and I am saying it, and thankful for this medium in which to say it, functioning as my own writer, editor, and publisher, which can be a lethal combination. As to the importance of what I am saying, I cannot vouch for that. It is likely of little of no importance to anyone other than me, or perhaps one who was simply entertained by reading it. Entertaining the reader is a noble and worthy goal, perhaps as noble and worthy as having something important to say, and much more likely. Are you being entertained? I hope so. Am I saying anything important? No, nothing important at all other than to those who fluff their WordPress publications with a tedious sense of self-importance, and they are likely to think that what I am writing here does not apply to them.

We take ourselves entirely too seriously. As we have people who become lost in the electronic world of their smart-phones and less observant of the actual world around them, we imagine ourselves as players on a great battlefield. We become Napoleon. We become Wellington. We are more likely Jethro Bodine (look him up if you are too young to know Jethro). Or, better and more cogent to current times, we think of ourselves as duplications of Kanye West…millions and billions of over-inflated egos from whom the world waits breathlessly for every word, world-changing words of supreme importance, impacting mankind and the earth forever.

Hmmmmm! Let me think of someone whose words may really be that important!

“I just launched our latest multiple-warhead nuclear missile at Japan,” might say Kim Jong Un. Everyone knows this would be false, since they have no MIRV (multiple independently targeted re-entry vehicle) warhead capability at this time, so the missile he would have just launched would be merely a single war-headed one. This fact it was merely a single warhead missile does not seem to detract from the importance of what he might have said.

Though every nation with any scientific capability would know it the instant it happened, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani might announce that they had successfully enriched enough uranium to construct and detonate a nuclear device in an underground test, though, declaring somewhat unpersuasively, that this was purely for peaceful purposes.

These would be important things. Their importance would be as much attached to the doing as the saying, as there is always more importance attached to the explanations for having done something great, whether glorious or nefarious, than words that describe someone’s plans to do something. Plans have a way of waning. What has been done has been done.

“We are planning to fly our aeroplane in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina,” said Wilbur and Orville to scant attention in 1903, though they had a serious plan.

“We actually got our heavier-than-air aeroplane airborne and flew it around,” said Wilbur and Orville just days later, getting much more attention this time than with the announcement of their intentions.

“The aeroplane will never fly,” said Britain’s Minister of War, Lord Haldane, in 1907. Had he been been asleep for four years? Or was he so isolated in his British Lordship-ness that the possibility of it had not occurred to him because the Wright Brothers would not dare do what they did without asking him for his permission? What he had to say was so unimportant as to be laughable.

Much of what we have to say rates right on up there with Lord Haldane, underwhelming, unnoticed, and mostly wrong, especially about world affairs. Our opinions about world affairs can never be wrong, since our opinions are simply our opinions, but the conclusions we draw based on our opinions can be wronger than we imagined possible.

“Er, uh, I say, Lord Haldane….they’ve already had several of these aeroplanes flying about for a few years in America, France, even here in Britain,” said Lords Erstwhile and Ersatz to Haldane as they sipped their tea in the House of Lords anteroom.

“Really?” gasped Lord Haldane, whose name could have just as easily been Lord Haldol (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haloperidol) for all the awareness he displayed of things going on about him in the real world. Perhaps he was reading the wrong newspapers, or whatever the equivalent of FaceBook and Twitter was in those days.

Don’t mistake the urgency to say something for its importance. The two things are not related. It may have been only important to you in the short run, which is the most likely case. Re-reading it a few years, or even a few weeks later, one may wonder what the urgency was all about, as the lack of importance becomes painfully obvious, or still seeing it as urgent and important, we congratulate ourselves on our moxie, or continue in our self-delusion that the world turns on what we think.

The world does not turn on what I think. The world will continue turning when I stop thinking, entirely. We all know some living people who seem to never think at all and the world never skips a turn. There is comfort in that if you can find it. I hope you can; if not, then there will be little comfort.

The dust that survives us is durable. Our words and memories, perhaps not so much.

“Here lies one whose name was writ in water,” wrote the poet John Keats in 1819. Our names, writ in water, are perhaps more durable than the words from our lips, unless we be John Keats.

I wonder what Keats might have had to say about Orville and Wilbur Wright? He may have had more prescience then than Lord Haldol did in 1907.

If you have something to say, then by all means say it. But, be prepared for the ho-hums coming from the rest of the uninterested world. Take me, for instance. I have written this without having anything to say, whatsoever.

At the very least, I hope you were somewhat entertained.

©2015 Mississippi Chris Sharp

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