the importance of being earnest
Once upon a time, I got a nickname:
“Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm”.
It was during my first really big gig in New York, and I knew very little about this thing that we in the theater profession call THE BUSINESS. And while my nickname may have been a term of endearment, it was not exactly a compliment. I was in my early 20′s, wide-eyed, chatty, loud, full of enthusiasm, incredibly eager to please, and let’s be honest—a complete nerd.
Almost 7 (!?!?) years later, I see the world—especially via social media and the internet—deal increasingly in detachment and sarcasm and irony. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some good ol’ fashioned razor-sharp wit. But today, it sometimes seems that our main cultural currency is snark. With a few keystrokes or a clever phrase photoshopped onto a stock image, we can eviscerate an artist’s work or destroy a reputation. And we can do it without breaking stride on our venti latte, because it’s so easy behind a computer screen. We point out the cloud in every silver lining and the bar full of half-empty glasses. And then, lest anyone think we are affected, we make sure they know that we couldn’t care less.
This is a really easy way to live life: detachment is its own sort of armor. Soul-deep investment in anything (an issue, an interest, a dream, and especially a person) leaves you profoundly vulnerable. Caring too much may leave you as the butt of the joke. And none of that translates to “cool”.
But being negative is inherently passive. It’s lazy. It demands very little of us to sit back and rhapsodize about how many different ways this work of art sucks, or how this person is so lame, or complain about how the world did us wrong. Seeing the good in the world sometimes requires us to CREATE that good. And that requires action and commitment.
As any lover of children’s literature will tell you, Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm (like her spirit sisters Anne Shirley and Jo March) changed her little corner of the world for the better—and not through sarcasm and cool detachment. She showed up for life in a big, dorky, glorious way—talking too much to strangers, broadcasting her huge dreams to the universe, and finding joy in the smallest and strangest of places. She didn’t just ignore the bad stuff either, because living life with joy doesn’t mean singing “la-la-la, I can’t hear you” to the darkness. Rebecca faced life square on with (to use one of those glorious old-fashioned words) PLUCK.
I stopped believing I could attain cool sometime back in the mid-90′s and started aiming for other things. I reached out to fellow artists who loved life with an exuberance to match mine and found a whole bevy of fellow enthusiasts in the blogosphere.
So why, after four years of thinking about it, do I start my own blog now? Because I want to create a space for myself to document what brings me joy. Food. Flowers. Projects. Clothes. Books. Friends. Causes. Inspiration. If I can inspire you to find more joy, more enthusiasm, more investment in your life, then I will count myself a lucky lady indeed.
And I hope very much to live up to that nickname.