Why so serious?
This morning, my playlist played „Why so serious“ by Alice Morton. One of my favourite songs these days. By the way, one of my kids’ favourites, too. I like the tune. But even more I like the lyrics: “Why so serious?”. Listening to that song, a couple of seemingly unrelated episodes from last week emerged on my mind.
Only seemingly unrelated
- Wednesday I had sent out a reminder for some feedback we expected in a project by Friday. Thursday, I received a note from a colleague in the US who wrote she would deliver that feedback by Friday End of Business.Yet, I should consider the difference in time zones.
I answered that if that feedback would be the one thing between her and the weekend, the project would survive if she sent it Monday. I got a close-to-enthusiastic answer and the feedback by Monday morning 4:30am CEST (which is considering time zones …).
- Last Tuesday, we had that first reading-cum-comedy-event of my book “Mittelmaß und Wahnsinn” (“Mediocrity and Madness”) … and we – the audience and myself – had real fun. During the break someone from the audience approached me and said: “Look, I should actually ask about the ‘so what’ but it is so motivating to just reflect – with a smile – what’s going so utterly wrong …”
- That mail in my mailbox saying we would have to talk (me reading an exclamation mark into that sentence) because this one person has said that thing based on that … .
- My kids, all three of them together, performing moves they had discovered on YouTube. Laughing and cheering without restraint.
- Notre Dame burning last night. Chris Cuomo on CNN: “We are watching history be destroyed in real-time”.
Life ain't easy
Here comes the point: we tend to take almost everything equally serious. Life ain’t easy. But not everything is equally serious. That post, that deadline, that mail, exercising, your project hitting the wall, your job interview, your parents, your kids, not showing your weaknesses, … .
The standard reflex is prioritization. Setting up a list, numbering it from one to a three digit figure and working through from top to bottom. Never reaching that bottom. The top priorities changing by the second. And some top-top-priorities not even making it to the list. As of late even spiritual practices find their places on that list: meditation, mindfulness, … . The problem is: all the topics on your list – no, say: maybe only the top 50 – appear equally important again. You want to tick them off. All of them. And you feel utterly distressed by the absolute impossibility of that endeavor.
No wonder that even the faintest idea of playfulness is lost. That playfulness that might be the heart and soul of creativity. The alternative? – “Re-Seriousitization”. Taking serious only that which is truly serious. Most probably it is not that deadline Friday night. It is not that slightly uncoordinated mail. For most of us it is not – as sad as this is – Notre Dame burning. It might though be your kid having had a bad day at school. Or your colleague having had a bad day at work.
Maybe that’s a nice resolution for that sunny pre-Easter day: Re-Seriositize! De-Seriousitize! And maybe it’s another good resolution to reflect on Alice Morton’s next question: “When did we get like this?”.