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Give Advice Like No One Matters

Friday 3rd January 2014

It's about time I did another work displacement activity, I mean blog.

So I have decided to pointlessly dissect the advice in that famous song or poem that optimists sometimes quote at each other. You know the one. It goes something like:

"Work like you don't need the money. 
Love like you've never been hurt. 
Dance like no-one's watching. 
Sing like no-one's listening. 
Live like there's no tomorrow. 
Fear like a stone."

I'm pretty sure attacking this lovely sentiment is hack territory but it's not like this is a huge platform that's meant to be full of a grade material. So there. In fact, if I was trying to write this into stand-up right now, I would have no interest in it. But because I am supposed to be updating my website and working on the next draft of something, it suddenly seems like an alluring and brilliant use of my time.

My problems with this sage advice are as follows:

Work like you don't need the money. - Then no one would EVER do ANY work! Are you insane? If I had to work like I didn't need the money I would do a really shitty job on everything I ever did. The only reason I don't is because I am afraid I will be told off or sacked. If everyone suddenly pretended they were Scrooge McDuck society would crumble. Or at least, it would be a bit like that episode of the Simpsons when everyone copied Bart's 'I didn't feel like it' attitude. Seriously, better advice would be 'Work like you have a deadline you actually care about.'

Love like you've never been hurt. -I put it to you that your blank-canvas love is insubstantial without the experience of hurt to give it depth and contrast anyway. And also, you don't have to have had your heart broken to be able to use your imagination to work out that that would be a horrible experience. If you have ever seen a film or read a book you'll have the gist. So if that's what they meant, they should have phrased it: 'love like you've never seen a Woody Allen film and are unable to predict that sometimes things end badly.' But even then, as I say, I don't think the love of a moron with no foresight is actually as impressive as the love of someone who understands pain and still risks it all.

Dance like no-one's watching. - I dance like everyone's watching. And also that they hate me. This is why alcohol exists. But thanks for reminding me that I am a repressed, slightly socially-phobic, lowly-functioning borderline alcoholic. A better activity to do like no one's watching is shoplift.

Sing like no-one's listening. - I'm tone-deaf, so in a way that's what I always do. But it's certainly better if we just tweak this to 'sing WHEN no-one's listening.' You need to be sure. Especially if you sing as badly as me and don't fancy everyone wittily comparing you to the dying animal of their choice. As ever, this advice is all about the big idea, but doesn't have to deal with the actual consequences of the apparent bravery.

Live like there's no tomorrow. - Live in ABJECT TERROR of my imminent death? What's wrong with you? If I spend all my money and tell everyone I love them, and then there IS a tomorrow, I'm going to look pretty foolish. I'd have to end the world just to get out of the social awkwardness I've created. Terrible advice. Really irresponsible. 

Fear like a stone. - This just feels like a mis-translation down the line. Are stones really that famous for not being afraid of things? I thought they were more famous for being inanimate objects, incapable of human emotions of any kind. Also being hard and dense, and helping geologists work out how old the world is. But you know, sure, whatever. If you just meant 'Don't be afraid of stuff' maybe that's what you should have said instead of trying to show off all the time.

The thing that annoys my misanthropic side about this wise counsel, is that it is all too saccharine to really be practical. it is crappy advice disguised as a lovely idea and therefore meaningless, and part of the problem, not the solution. But then, maybe I'm just jealous because I'm incapable of doing any of the things on the list.

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