My brother is the King of Cynicism.
He is one in a long line of cynics, including our father before us, who loved nothing better than to sit in the corner of a pub, peering over a broadsheet and watching the world silently with an acerbic eye; and before that our grandfather, who amused us as children by drawing humorous sketches of 1930s street scenes emphasising, to our delight, the large amount of horse manure that such streets allegedly contained, and the necessity of a man with a shovel nearby.
I like to think that I too am possessed of the cynical gene. Sometimes it can be a blessing, when raising a laugh by thinking of a particularly cutting way to describe someone, but it can also be a curse. Perhaps I am not always the angelic non-judgemental nice person I would like to be.
One thing I am not is earnest.
I can’t cope with it. The inspirational quotes, the self-help lite, the endless platitudes about how you can be what you want to be if only you want to be it and think about being it and then make yourself be it.
Some time ago, I realised I had very nearly ruined my credibility in the eyes of my cynical brother when a series of inspirational quotes appeared on my Twitter feed, attributed to me. I was mortified. In my defence, I informed him of the following.
It wasn’t me. It isn’t me. It’s an app. It does it automatically and I don’t know how to stop it, and every now and then I get a reply to one of these inspirational quotes, an approving reply. Because apparently people actually like this stuff. And I have an admission to make…
I hate them.
I hate quotes. They don’t remind me to do great things, they remind me that the work of Martin Luther King shouldn’t be condensed into minisicule Twitter-friendly soundbites, and half of them aren’t even credited to anyone, so they could have just been MADE UP.
Let’s look at some random examples, which I obtained, as all profound and life-changing advice is, by performing a simple Google search and then having a nosey over what was on the front page.
“Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; then suddenly you are doing the impossible.” (St Francis of Assisi).
ST FRANCIS OF BLOODY ASSISI?
Yep, that one. The one you see in all the pictures, dressed in the monk outfit, with the birds, looking like a character from a Disney film circa 1942. The man lived in the thirteenth century, for Christ’s sake. He didn’t spend his life spewing out pop-psychology anecdotes about the golden path to riches and success. HE DIDN’T BLOODY CARE ABOUT THAT. He was a thirteenth century monk. They HATED success. They would have rather spent forty years whipping themselves with a cat ‘o nine tails whilst crawling to Jerusalem and back on their knees and then eking out the rest of their days in a cave living solely on the eucharist. If Twitter had been around then, he would have been denouncing it as the work of Beelzebub.
“A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.” (Joseph Campbell)
Firstly, I don’t know who this person is-an author, according to Google, and one who seems to have had a great deal of his work condensed into pithy slogans and photoshopped onto pictures of lions and the obligatory calm-sea-at-sunset shots. Secondly, couldn’t this apply to quite a lot of people that we wouldn’t necessarily want to emulate, like, um, terrorists?
“Good, better, best. Never let it rest. ‘Til your good is better, and your better is best.” (St Jerome)
Isn’t that the guy who used to stand in the desert and beat his chest with a rock? I’m not taking life advice from that guy. Also, I’m pretty sure that St Jerome, 347-420 AD and writing in Latin, never used the word “’til.”
“Aim for the moon. If you miss, you may hit a star.” (W. Clement Stone)
Not unless you have a very poor aim.
I know, I know, some people love them, some people swear by them, some spend their lives taping them to the walls of offices, classrooms and bathroom mirrors, and if that’s what floats your boat, what helps you get through the day, then go right ahead. My Twitter feed will be right there with you, just don’t expect me to take any of it seriously. After all, as a great sage once said,
Which proves you can make pretty much anything sound inspirational if you cut it down enough, take it out of context and stick it on a sunset picture (although to be fair, I’m not sure that “wanna see Bradley swing, wanna see Rachel do her thing,” would have had quite the same effect).
#Inspire #Blessed #ChaseyourDreams #Hopeyoudon’tallhatemenow