disguising as earnestness
‘We cry at weddings and tell jokes at funerals,” says Garrison Keillor.
Reading the article, “the eight secrets to a (fairly) fulfilled life” by Oliver Burkeman in the Guardian I was struck by his use of words in an early sentence.
Mr. Burkeman wrote about his writing, “Typically for me, back then, this was a case of facetiousness disguising earnestness.”
I was fairly sure I knew what he meant.
But I fed facetiousness into the google to make sure.
The online Merriam-Webster states that “Facetious is an adjective (“not serious,” “waggish”), while facetiousness is a noun (“the state or quality of being facetious”).”
The M-W also says , “It is not inherently insulting to say that someone is being facetious (although it may imply dubious or ill-timed attempts at wit or humor). The word comes from the Latin facetia, meaning “jest.”
As the writers write, this gave me pause.
If I had ever had any cornerstone advice for anyone it was, “when in doubt, go for the laugh.”
I have always tried to see, seek, find or force humor out of any situation.
I thought I was being clever.
Clever AND helpful to often release tension is a tense situation.
Then I read Mere Christianity by CS Lewis.
It was then that I realized that I wasn’t always being clever so much as I was being flip.
As Mr. Lewis wrote on the different levels of humor AS A DESTRUCTIVE force, “Flippancy is the best of all. In the first place it is very economical. Only a clever human can make a real Joke about virtue, or indeed about anything else; any of them can be trained to talk as if virtue were funny.
Among flippant people the Joke is always assumed to have been made. No one actually makes it; but every serious subject is discussed in a manner which implies that they have already found a ridiculous side to it.
If prolonged, the habit of Flippancy builds up around a man the finest armour plating against the Enemy that I know, and it is quite free from the dangers inherent in the other sources of laughter.
It is a thousand miles away from joy; it deadens, instead of sharpening, the intellect; and it excites no affection between those who practise it.”
Talk about the literary brick through the front window.
When I first read that I had to put the book away for a time.
As I thought about it, I remember times when I had been referred to as ‘flip’.
I stopped giving my cornerstone piece of advice.
Interesting that all this came back in the sentence, “a case of facetiousness disguising earnestness.”
I realize that it applies better to this post if the sentence was “this was a case of facetiousness disguising as earnestness” so I added it for my Haiku.
That all being said, I found myself reading and agreeing with most of what Mr. Burkeman wrote in the article.
In bullet points, Mr. Burkeman wrote that:
There will always be too much to do – and this realisation is liberating.
When stumped by a life choice, choose “enlargement” over happiness.
The capacity to tolerate minor discomfort is a superpower.
The advice you don’t want to hear is usually the advice you need.
The future will never provide the reassurance you seek from it.
The solution to imposter syndrome is to see that you are one.
Selflessness is overrated.
Know when to move on.
I am not sure any of this is new.
Often all I need to re-read what I feel expressed by someone else to remind or reaffirm myself that I know what I need to do.
Ending this by again by paraphrasing Mr. Keillor, “It is nothing special. We all know what needs to be done.”
And if asked for cornerstone advice, I also quote the Lake-Woebegone Man, “Gentleness is everywhere in daily life, a sign that faith rules through ordinary things: through cooking and small talk, through storytelling, making love, fishing, tending animals and sweet corn and flowers, through sports, music and books, raising kids — all the places where the gravy soaks in and grace shines through. Even in a time of elephantine vanity and greed, one never has to look far to see the campfires of gentle people.”