Living in excerpts

Have you ever realized that we tend to live and converse in excerpts?

No, I’m not saying that we function and socialize day-to-day by pulling random lines from a movie or a book. We don’t walk around with little captions above our heads or insert random quotes into conversation. We have entire conversations and only provide excerpts from our thoughts or from the full paragraph that forms in our head.

I can prove it.

Ask me what I want to eat or where I want to go on any given random day. I’ll tell you that I don’t know or I don’t care. Of course I care and of course I have an inkling of…even if it isn’t what I want, what I don’t want. But we tend to think that it requires too much explanation. Explaining to you that I don’t want the place down the road because the waiter was rude last time and I don’t want pasta because my appetite isn’t large enough but I might be in the mood for the little cafe down the road does two things. It creates a split second rational thought that you don’t want to listen to my rant and that you might want Olive Garden…and the last thing anyone wants to do is seem complicated. Aren’t we all complicated on some level? So we fall back to something easy and generally accepted. But guess what? That shit is complicated because my non-answer has you now asking yourself a million questions over a meal. Over a necessity to survive.

Let me ask you when you are going to stop by for a visit. If you aren’t absolutely sure of when that will be, you may be inclined to tell me ‘soon’. What is soon? Soon isn’t even a date or projected amount of time. It’s an adjective that isn’t even relative to a real definition or time. When does the movie start? Soon. That means in like 10 minutes, hurry up and turn it on. When is the next rock concert? Soon. That means it is in like two months so start saving. There isn’t even a fair fucking comparison of time when you tell someone ‘soon.’ It’s an excerpt to avoid telling someone what is actually going on in your life. Soon to you could be once you don’t feel overwhelmed or stressed out anymore because you have a lot of things on your schedule…which could be weeks from now. You don’t explain that because then you would have to explain the stressed out or crappy situation you are dealing with. But that is soon to you because you are smack dab in the middle of your own reality. Guess what folks? That person that wants to see you…isn’t in your reality because you won’t let them be. Because you answer with words like ‘soon.’ So soon to that other person could be two days from now when they think you can spare five minutes of your precious time and maybe show that you still want them around. What if soon was even meant to be a vague answer to allow them to gain a subtle hint because your full thought was “I really don’t know because I’m not sure I’m going to see you. Ever. I’m waiting until you give up and move on”. So we settle with what…a gentle blow off? It’s even better when you follow an excerpt with silence.

If you really wanted to see someone, you would right? If you wanted to talk to someone, you would right? We live as a society on our phones more than we sleep or eat. Calls, texts, emails, social media, instant messaging, tweets, I don’t even know them all anymore. If at anyone point in time someone crosses your mind and you miss them, it takes what…75 seconds at most now to send them a message to just say ‘Hi’.  No matter what we have going on, if we are thinking of someone, it is that easy to let them know. I don’t care if your house burnt down, your mom is yelling at you, or you’re in the emergency room because you fell down a flight of stairs. Or all three. You have your phone in your pocket, your purse, or hell in your hand. At some point, in any day, you have your phone out at a stop light or in the bathroom with you while you are taking a shit so you can play candy crush and you are also sending someone somewhere a message, liking a Facebook update or checking an email. It is what we do now.

Did I get side tracked? Absolutely not. It all falls back on excerpts. Silence is an excerpt. We don’t send our friend a message just to say hi because we don’t want to explain our day to them or why we can’t attend the wine tasting next weekend.Why don’t we want to? Because all they are is an excerpt. We end up making people into ‘maybes’ or ‘when it is convenient’ because we find it far too much effort and risk to actually have conversations with people anymore.

How was your day? It was good. That is not a fucking answer. We need people in our lives that will actually answer the question and feel comfortable answering it. If I didn’t want to know…I wouldn’t have asked. Spend 30 minutes telling me about how your associate filed your shit by date instead of alphabetically and it ruined your whole day. Include how you went to Panera and ordered the flatbread and it was soggy so you’ll never order it again. Guess what you just did? You provided me with information so I know to never order you a flat bread and if I ever decide to organize your DVDs I’ll make sure to do it alphabetically. Conversation is required to get to know people. How else are we going to survive? How else do people survive together whether it is friendship or relationship?

If you find yourself in a situation where you are becoming an excerpt, you might be missing that person far more than they miss you. You may trust them far more than they trust you. You may be ready to include them in your life while they are not ready.

Don’t be an excerpt. Be an effort.

Be the person they put an effort in for. Whether it is to tell you every boring dragging detail of their day or something as simple as a quick text while they are checking out in the grocery store, surround yourself with people who miss you as soon as they leave and put effort into you.

Allow people in your life that are going to check in on you.

Don’t be an excerpt. Be a mind-blowing explanation.


Written by Tammy Lee

April 9, 2016


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