NO MORE INTELLECTUAL WANNABES
Joy is rare these days, and facing an uphill fight. We seem to be embarrassed to admit we feel good on occasion.
Tish Warren, Opinion Writer for N.Y. Times, writes on this week’s editorial page:
“The current state of our cultural discourse seems to be joylessness writ large. ..If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention, proclaims social media, T-shirts, and bumper stickers.”
Tish seems to suggest if you’d been paying attention, you should be in a state of catatonic despair.
She observes that despair sounds authentic while joy sounds frivolous, to the point that joy a character flaw.
Of course, kids find delight when they go out to play, but where are the rest of us—gone to some gloomy underground?
I must have missed that downbeat message?
Trish writes for one of our nation’s great publications, so she must know something: Maybe even a lot. But she doesn’t know Augusta or Sylvia. You want to see a contest between joy and despair? Put Tish and her subjects in a room with Sylvia and Augusta: See who emerges thinking joy is a character flaw?
The two women I know have never seen a room they can’t ‘work,’ never seen a social situation where they couldn’t plant smiles on every face.
They are the Energizer Bunnies of mirth. I’ve witnessed it with my own eyes. Through years of war, peace, depression, and calamity, Augusta and Sylvia take on the cantankerous, complaining, worry-warts, and dystopian intellectual wannabes. All crumble when faced with the infectious grin from these two women. They’ll flirt, joke, complement and enchant: Whatever it takes. The sunny outcome is always the same. So how does a worry-wart confront Augusta, a self-described “Sprite”? More recently, Augusta (an octogenarian and former ambassador’s wife) came out of the closet and announced she will self-identify as “a teenager.”
Sylvia never thought joy was frivolous or a character flaw. In school, she could send the whole class into belly jiggling giggling. Now decades later, Sylvia never met a social occasion she didn’t relish and has only refined her skills.
I’ve never met Dolly Parsons, but I believe she could melt any of Trish’s sneering, angry, defensive cranks.
Is there too much bad shit out there, and do people focus on it because it makes them sound insightful? Absolutely. But when I read on the Times editorial page that “.. despondency is the dominant motif of our lives”, I think of Sylvia, Augusta, and Dolly. Joy isn’t my world’s only sentiment, but neither is dystopian thought.
If anything, the media drumbeat of pessimism only spotlights the joy these three girls bring. And now I’ll give more attention to the joyful kids playing.