Self-care is walking away to use the bathroom when you’re in a conversation you can’t escape, even if the other person is still talking.
Save the phrase “It’s just politics” for things like low-blow campaign ads and candidates fighting on Twitter. When you use it in reference to issues that impact other people’s lives, you reveal not only that these things don’t apply to your life, but also that you have a woefully narrow perspective.
When I bought Ellsworth Kelly stamps at the post office, I lied and pretended I knew who he was. The clerk expressed his surprise that they’d put out the Kelly stamps so quickly–he’d died fairly recently.
“Oh, that’s true,” I said.
In college, the teachings of Socrates inspired me to stop pretending I knew things in order to look smarter. Instead, I decided to just ask. I might look ignorant, but it would be better for me in the long term.
Asking is better than looking something up online later; you get a human perspective that’s missing from Wikipedia. Sometimes, also, you realize that other people don’t always know what they’re talking about.
Since I didn’t ask the clerk, I had to look up Ellsworth Kelly myself.
Kelly led a long life, made tons of art, and passed away in 2015. The single awesomest thing I learned about him? He was part of a WWII unit called “The Ghost Army,” which deceived the Germans into thinking there were allied armies where there were none. PBS made a documentary about it–I know the next documentary I’m watching.
There is a certain view that if we just sit back and stop worrying, the universe will take care of it. But there’s more than one meaning of “take care of it.” Sometimes, “take care of it” is what the villain says upon learning that the hero, or one of the hero’s plucky associates, is alive and well and making trouble. Turning to Henchman Number One, the villain says, “Take care of it.” And you know that the Henchman off to murder/ ambush/ kidnap/ maim someone.
Sometimes, that’s how the universe is too. Here’s a real life example:
Me: So I was thinking that I’d leave for work early and stop to get that computer mouse.
Universe: That’s one idea. But, ooh, how about instead the heat and hot water at your apartment stop working? And you can make a phone call about that.
Me: I hate phone calls.
Universe: Would it be better if a glass shattered on the floor right before you have to make the phone call?
Me: No, not really.
Universe: Ah, well, too late. No big deal, right?
Me: No, I suppose not. The glass broke in large pieces.
Universe: Right! Look at you, taking care of stuff like a champ.
Me: Yeah! I even still have time for lunch.
Universe: You know you have to clear off your car, right?
Me: Fine, no time for lunch. At least I have time to eat in the car.
Universe: No, now there’s blood. You have to take care of this.
Me: Blood? Where the hell is it coming from?
Universe: Your finger.
Me: Fine, I’ll put on a band-aid.
Universe: No, you can’t reach those.
Me: Well, then I’ll awkwardly wrap my finger in a napkin that I can kind of reach.
Universe: There you go. Now you can have lunch.
Me: No, I can’t. My finger is awkwardly wrapped in a napkin.
Universe: If you drive fast, you’ll have time to eat a few bites of sandwich before you walk into the building.
Me: That actually worked. You know, I’m not even in a bad mood. Despite all this.
Universe: Ok, that’s great! Now, how about you meet the person who was hired for that job you asked about all those months ago, but you didn’t follow up on it because you’re a big wimp and now you’re stuck making $10 an hour with the least flexible job in the world?
Universe: Good job. Now, how about that bad mood you mentioned earlier?
Me: Yes. I am totally depressed now.