We humans tend to obsess over the trivial.
We gossip, we fritter our time scrolling social media, and we get worked up about sport. Here in the UK, rather than solve the NHS, we argue over the Prime Minister’s choice of trousers.
But it’s a balancing act.
Once I’d got through that period in my early twenties of indignation, introspection, and weighty novels by Dostoevsky, I realised that dwelling on the big stuff can make you miserable. And by extension, the people around you too.
Sometimes you’ve got to lighten up.
As long as enough people are focussed on the serious stuff at any given time, we should be OK, right?
Except there’s so much trivial out there that we’re not getting through it. With all that slick US drama lined up on Netflix, for example, we can’t seem to get a handle on the worrying rise of far-right politics.
Maybe we need a rota?
On Monday, Wednesday, and Friday I could fret and wring my hands about 2017’s impending global meltdown, leaving Tuesdays and Thursdays free for re-tweeting funny pictures and debating the merits of quinoa as a salad ingredient. The weekends are a free-for-all.
I thought that might be a reasonable compromise.
But then I found myself wandering around that area of the internet responsible for famous quotes – it’s really big, you can’t miss it, just near the funny cat GIF section – and I stumbled across this from Pablo Picasso:
“Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone.”
Bloody hell Pablo!
And I realised that it’s not so much that I ration the attention I give to the big issues in life, but that my life is nothing more than a trail of triviality. Picasso’s commitment to the gigantic blows me into tiny (trivial) pieces.
There are plenty of things I’d accept a quick and painless death to avoid having to do, but have I ever had something I absolutely, positively, HAVE to do before I die?
Perhaps in comparing myself to one of the great artists of history I’m being hard on myself? I think by now we can assume I’m no Picasso. I’m fairly sure there isn’t an unresolved Guernica inside me somewhere just bursting to get out.
There are probably snarky blog posts about Donald Trump and male grooming, but I’d be tempted to file those under ‘trivial’.
I’ll have to meet Picasso half way.
I couldn’t possibly commit myself to completing something today, but I will break my habit of refusing to make new-year resolutions. I resolve to figure out what it is that I absolutely cannot end 2017 without doing.
My mantra will be: “Only put off until 2018 what you’d be really rather disappointed to finish 2017 having left undone.”
I’m acknowledging that big things can’t be ignored, but leaving a bit of wiggle room.
I’m just being realistic.