Complete this sentence:
“Ugh, there really is nothing worse than…”
a) Your tea or coffee going cold before you get a chance to drink it?
b) An errant red sock getting in the white load and making all the clothes pink?
c) The plus box failing to record the last ten minutes of a film?
We’ve probably all said something like that at some time in our life.
I know the person saying it doesn’t really think a cold hot drink is worse than a genuine disaster; they’re not saying clothes that were once white dyed thanks to a stowaway sock is worse than something happening to a loved one; nor are they suggesting missing the end of a film is worse than a life-changing event.
It’s just a figure of speech, something that people say without pausing to consider its meaning.
It makes me cringe, though.
Writing for a living, I’ve got a tendency to (over) think about the meaning of words. It’s become worse this year: it is common amongst the bereaved to find deeper meaning in commonly-used words and phrases, and to become sensitive about their use in certain contexts.
There are plenty of things to be cross about in the world. Real injustice, tragedies, loss. These days, I try to shrug rather than let minor annoyances and inconveniences get up my nose. There are worse things, after all.
When I hear people say “There’s nothing worse than (insert minor annoyance or inconvenience here)” I think of Alanis Morissette’s 90’s classic song, Ironic. You know, the one where the biggest irony is that none of the things she quotes are actually ironic.
A free ride when you’ve already paid, 10,000 spoons when all you need is a knife, rain on your wedding day – all annoying things.
A death row pardon two minutes too late and the plane going down – they’re on the serious/tragedy pile, certainly.
I’ll agree with Alanis, life has a funny way of sneaking up on you…no one knows what is around the corner.
Life usually really isn’t as bad as you think it is. Exaggeration, taking things for granted, getting upset about things that don’t actually matter is a waste of energy.
It’s sad that it often takes a personal tragedy for us to put things in perspective. To realise what is important. To discover it was the smallest moments that mattered most.
I know I’m probably not one to talk, with the anxiety I have as a result of this year’s events that on a bad day can make the simplest things feel challenging.
The anxiety is something I am working on, trying to get my rational mind to drown out. Remembering that worse has happened this year, and that I have survived (mostly) intact.
That’s why I try to shrug and say “Well, what’s the worst that can happen?”
Because to me, the worst already has.
To me, there really is nothing worse than being without my baby.