The Hidden Power of Cliches

• 5 min read
The Hidden Power of Cliches

As my super time-intensive (and rewarding) projects come to an end this month, I am moving on to new ones (I have intellectual ADHD in case you haven’t noticed).

I’m working on moving my newsletter to a different website. I’m going to update the whole she-bang from the ground up. I don’t have a lot of subscribers by any means, but I have enough that I can declare this newsletter experiment a success. I now have more subscribers that I don’t know personally than subscribers that I do (weird I know).

Please reply to this email with any suggestions or feedback for Lazy Sundays 2.0. I want to take all your feedback into account as I switch. AND if you don’t want to be a part of the new email list smash that unsubscribe button. I don’t want to send you a newsletter if it isn’t a delight.

Without further adieu, here are the categories…

Embrace Your Lazy

Lazy Question for the Week

  1. In ways do I expect others to create joy for me?
  2. What apps do I use to create joy?
  3. How can I create joy just for myself?

Sculpt Yourself

The Hidden Power of Cliches

I sent my first newsletter to only 11 people. I had asked myself the question: Why write?

I had no audience. We had just started the quarantine. I felt lost. Now, I have a slightly bigger audience. We are many months into the quarantine. And I feel a little less lost.

I know that a part of me wants to feel completeness or feel like life makes sense, but it never will. Life always teaches me that change, unpredictability, and “lost-ness” is part of the process. The COVID crisis (and all the subsequent turbulence) is not the problem, it’s a symptom.

Today, I completed five weeks of mentoring students in a course called Write of Passage. Every week, I pretended like I knew what I was talking about and I lead an hour session where I disguised self-growth as writing practice.

And every week I mentored them, I re-learned that connection is powerful. It’s a trite lesson, sure. But cliches are cliches for a reason.

When a good friend tells you something you listen. Cliches are only cliches when they are plastered on twitter by people who don’t know what you’re going through. Cliches are profound pearls of truth when you know what that person is going to. Cliches change your life when you personalize them into mantras.

To me, at this unique point of my life, this cliche (“connection is powerful”) seems like a life-changing one. I had come across this quote in the days before I wrote my first newsletter.

James Fenton, in An Introduction to English Poetry, puts forth the idea that poetry happens when one raises their voice. I agree, but I also believe that poetry happens when one lowers their voice. In the first instance, the raised voice, we have the street hawkers, the singers, the storytellers, the priests — anyone who wants to be heard over the din — but in the second we include the tellers of secrets, the lovers, the password keepers — all those who want to be heard beneath the din, not by the din itself but by one singular other who is part of the din, as when in the middle of a concert we lean to the person next to us and cup our hand around our mouth, forming a private amphitheater, a concert within a concert, connecting ourselves to one the way the concert is connecting itself to everyone. - Mary Ruefle, Madness Rack and Honey (emphasis mine)

As you probably can tell from the review I posted last week, stories have sculpted me into who I am.

The best felt like little whispers across time and space. They made me feel less alone.

My favorite moment in my Write of Passage mentorships ironically came at my most low. I was feeling tired and sick and stressed. I doubted my ability as a teacher.

Instead of trying to hide it, I shared how I felt with my students. I didn’t think about it or plan that moment, it just came tumbling out of me. I wanted to be as honest as possible and if that meant a bit of scary vulnerability, that’s okay. That’s what connection is about.

As I said in my piece on whispers:

I love that quiet throaty voice when somebody is about to get vulnerable.
I love that in writing too.
The whispers.

I would like to keep in touch with all my Write of Passage students. They were remarkable: smart, funny, inspiring, and so many other adjectives. But even if I never hear from them again, I hope that in some small way I inspired them to whisper.

During this time, whispering is the most important. Our society is burning up like a phoenix and it’s up to US to determine what society gets reborn from the ashes. We already have the people who raise their voice. But many of us are exhausted by the noise.

We need more whispers. We need those who are heard beneath the din din din.

The library is a whispering post. You don't need to take a book off a shelf to know there is a voice inside that is waiting to speak to you, and behind that was someone who truly believed that if he or she spoke, someone would listen. It was that affirmation that always amazed me. Even the oddest, most peculiar book was written with that kind of courage -- the writer's belief that someone would find his or her book important to read. I was struck by how precious and foolish and brave that belief is, and how necessary, and how full of hope - Susan Orlean, The Library Book

Whispering takes courage. It takes belief, a faith that hope is worth it. This is precious, foolish, and all sorts of stupid. But that’s what makes the faith meaningful. We have to believe something we can never know for sure: that we are worth saving and it’s possible to do so.

When the din din din becomes too much turn to the whispers. Call a friend and whisper to them. Tell them a personalized cliche. Or when they tell you one, hear it like it was the first time. You would be surprised by how much-hidden power cliches have.

If done right, they can change a life.

Develop Your Petri Dish

You are what you eat, so here’s some nutritious content:

An interesting look inside writers’ notebooks. My favorite quote:

Note-taking is not just a method for remembering. It is a way a writer tells himself, or herself, a story – and this becomes a process of life, a mode of being. Writers are constantly talking to themselves.

Apparently we all want a significant other who is exactly 25% out of our league.


After a very busy few months, I am going to take a couple of days off from work these next two weeks.

Ideally, my day off schedule is going to look like this:

Hope you can find one day soon that looks just like this, “brecfist” and all.

Till next week my lazy,

Pranav

← More Pain Less Suffering
Analyze the Art You Like →

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