My plant is dying. I blame nobody but myself. I’ve been forgetting to water it and leave my shades open. But now its once crisp leaves are drooping and its color is draining.
I probably could have done more to save Plant 2.0, especially after losing Plant 1.0 at the end of last year. But I didn’t.
I was thinking about what this meant to me. Was it a metaphor for a dying American democracy? Was it about my waning energy for classes as we reach the lull between midterms and finals? Am I unfit to bring a child into this world if I can’t nurture a plant? I wasn’t sure, but I needed it to be profound.
But it’s not that deep. It’s just a dead plant.
I’m tired of trying to insert meaning when there doesn’t have to be any.
A few weeks ago, Taylor Swift released “Midnights,” and Swifties lost their damn minds. To some, it wasn’t as lyrically beautiful as they hoped or it wasn’t composed with the same elegant minimalism of Folklore or Evermore.
I saw two girls go through all of the lyrics, critiquing each line. They expressed feelings of disappointment and betrayal. And I guess my question is just, “Why?”
For me, the vibes are good, Some of the hooks are catchy, You can bet that I’m a listener. And I don’t feel any need to wonder what it means to question, “Did you ever have someone kiss you in a crowded room / And every single one of your friends was makin’ fun of you / But fifteen seconds later, thеy were clappin’ too?” It hasn’t happened to me, but hey, I also haven’t been “hoping one of those senior boys would wink at me and say ‘You know, I haven’t seen you around.’” Not every lyric tugs at my heartstrings, but that doesn’t stop me from loving her music.
This isn’t just a criticism of Taylor Swift backlash. It’s part of a greater trend of having to justify our joy.
I’ve felt this frustration several times in the last few weeks.
As I worked on creative writing class applications, I found myself struggling to respond to the questions.Why do I want to take a class on writing about myself? Because I like it and want to get better. Who are my favorite comedians and why? A whole bunch because they make me laugh. I didn’t realize I had to justify my passions.
While discussing book recommendations with a friend the other day, they highlighted the literary significance of their choice. I replied that I thought John Grisham sure can whip up a fun plot in the legal thriller genre. I don’t know why that made me feel so inadequate. I want the books I read to entertain me, and nobody can do that quite like the Grish. Maybe it’s not sophisticated enough for Yale standards, but good stories are good stories.
Or when someone was questioning me about why I write for the YDN — admittedly a pretty common question — I couldn’t find a great answer. It’s just that I really like writing. I don’t think we have to be changing the world with our journalism to make it worthwhile.
All of this has made me realize that most of my favorite activities don’t have any profound meaning, and I feel perfectly fine with that. In fact, I want to embrace that attitude and focus even more on filling my time with whatever brings me joy, no justification needed.
This is the season for writing, for crunching leaves, for photosynthesizing on Cross Campus, for running at East Rock, for hundreds of games of online chess every week, for reading articles about sports, for calling my mom, for laughing at bad memes, for slowly becoming a Lil Wayne fan, for checking NBA box scores every night, for long walks and for spontaneity.
I don’t care if some of those things seem a little weird to you. I’m not explaining why I love them, not that there’s a ton to explain. I just want to feel happy. When the world makes me want to despair, when it’s 75 degrees outside in November, when glancing at Twitter makes me curl up into a ball to hide from the world and when election fear seeps into every corner of our country, I deserve the right to find happiness where I can.
I love having a plant in my room. But now Plant 2.0 is dying. That’s all there is to it. Nothing more. Nothing less. There’s no profound metaphor.
But I think I’ll buy a new plant this weekend, just because it makes me feel good.