I was attending a lecture by Cheryl Lange. It was about books, a topic I am fairly passionate about. She began by saying that we are changed by the things that we are intimate with. That facts alone don’t change us. It’s the closeness, the rubbing up against something multiple times that affects us. And so if we want to be changed for the better, it would make sense that we would become intimate with great ideas, great people, great events, great places. It would make sense that we would become intimate with great stories and in turn we would start to write a great life story of our own.
In the middle of the lecture, Cheryl threw out the word “twaddle,” a word used by a leader in the homeschooling movement called, Charlotte Mason. Twaddle means trivial or foolish. I think it’s interesting to think of the word “twaddle” in regards to our life in general. What things are we becoming intimate with that are just twaddle, things that are devoid of great meaning, of depth, of quality? And what things are we becoming intimate with that are propelling us forward into a rich life?
I’ve come to realize how precious time is, and how easy it is to become acclimated to being bored. If I am not stimulated by good conversation, good books, good fun then the days begin to sort of sloppily run into each other in one big twaddly mess.
I find my world too small, too boring, too commonplace. I find myself going through the motions. I find myself capping my thinking and my dreaming with a ceiling that is so low to the ground I can barely stand up. My knees and back are achy from all the stooping. I am thinking the dramas of my today are all there really is, and that they might just kill me.
I have conversations with the people I feel obliged to converse with. I read the books I’ve been told to read, that is, if I read at all. I maintain the same routine because this is how life is done in America when you’re a thirty something mom of four kids. I become intimate with the story I’ve been told to live at this age, in this culture, in this religion, with this income, and the story isn’t all that amazing. You make meals. You go to church. You drive your kids around like any good soccer mom. You get lost in a TV series. You watch the news and worry about all that is wrong with the world. You save for retirement or college or for new furniture.
But there are times, times where if I’m honest, this is just not enough for me. I’m kind of bored with a story that believes my best days ended in college when I was still single and mobile and energetic and free. The story that says now I must be mature and stay steady in a top-notch career that will help me coast into a retirement I’ve prepared well in advance.
I can remember stepping into my first “real” job after college and after Tony and I were married. I remember feeling trapped, knowing I was going to have to work like this for the rest of my life. Monday through Friday, 8 - 4, sometimes overtime hours, and only one week of vacation time for the entire year.
I was an adult now. There was no more Spring Break or Fall Break or a month off for Christmas Break. There were no more summers off. I had walked into the daily grind and was asked to check in my creativity and freedom at the door, and I felt a sort of adjustment occur inside me that said, “If this is how it’s going to have to be, you’re going to need to accept that this is all there is to life.”
It was an icky feeling of settling, but I was an adult now, and I didn’t have a choice. It suddenly made sense why my co-workers would hit up happy-hour weekly. On one occasion I can remember sitting around a table with them and complaining about the horrible and somewhat humorous way we were treated at work. I can remember sipping on my bottle of Smirnoff, and feeling as though at one time I would have had something more meaningful to talk about but I couldn’t clearly remember what that was anymore. I realized we were partners in misery, and I was becoming very intimate with the misery. I knew vaguely of a world that seemed greater than this, but now it seemed dream-like, a vapor, and certainly not reality.
I’m not sure when exactly the change occurred in me. I’m not sure when I stopped believing the twaddle was all there was. I think the subtle shift occurred when I started to listen to my heart and believe those dreams inside of me really mattered and really were possible. A few of my friends and I slowly felt the courage to break free from a poisonous environment where the miserable was accepted as a prison sentence for life.
In my life today, I am so accustomed to great stories, that twaddle has become more and more glaringly obvious. It’s like going back to eating fast food when you’ve been used to eating homemade, healthy food with fresh ingredients. The cardboard taste of deep-fried potatoes just isn’t what it once was.
Currently I am acquainted with talented artists and creative moms and deep thinkers with passionate hearts. Through books I am hanging out with people like Ayn Rand and Ralph Waldo Emerson and Anais Nin and Og Mandino and Gary Vaynerchuk. I feel like I am a part of a bigger movement of individuals who aren’t settling for bore. Everything feels within arms reach. The sky feels the limit. I am setting up a world in which greatness can be seen and felt and experienced from all angles, and I am believing in possibilities for myself that once felt but a joke.
The printing press was a real danger in its day, especially to those in control. I can imagine leaders of the day saying, “If great ideas can be spread at mass, then people will start to revolt! They will realize life isn’t what we told them it must be. We will lose power.”
There is power in becoming intimate with things of greatness. The more twaddle we can eliminate and the more greatness we can drink in, the more our dreams start to shift from fairy tales to auto-biographies. It is all very much within our reach. It has been all along. We just couldn’t see it. It’s time for a re-acclimation to the things of beauty, truth, nobility and hope that are planted within.