In every life, about a handful of Truly Significant moments are collected. These, unless you’re easily given to joy upon opening stationery catalogues eating spaghetti, polishing brassware et al, are wrung from events broadly agreed to be drenched in emotion. Births, deaths, marriages and all their variants and relatives from illness to ignited love provide the stuff of big moments.
You will recognise these moments for their potency. Within these instants, some sort of emotional coin is dropped. A new mechanism is activated and, slowly then suddenly, your insides creak and you’re changed for good.
When you care to peruse your album of rare and remarkable moments, you will almost certainly find these were built in the immediate company of life, death and affection. You may also find that this record is slim. This, truly, is the way it should be. A life too well-punctuated by high drama and joy is a life drained of meaning. Unless, of course, you’re Namoi Campbell.
I suspect that I’m quite fortunate to have collected a few such moments for display and ready reference. My internal emotional directory contains a select hit list at the top of which is an “I Love You” closely followed by an “It’s completely operable”.
Occasionally, however, I find myself eager for the inclusion of new moments.
Like a brooding tween hepped up on a dissatisfying diet of Emo and trans fats, I find myself idly hoping for bad-ass, life changing emotional action.
I’m not at all entirely certain who to blame for this accerelated urge. However, apportion blame I must. First, as a selfish student of the twenty first century, I automatically seek to blame external forces for my own emotional failures. Second, and more or less altruistically, I have noticed a great many other adult persons who appear in similar need of memorable exhilaration. It’s a virus that someone, at the very least, should diagnose.
And Paris Hilton, culture’s screaming diseased chimp, is its point of origin.
When Paris says she “loves” something, as she nearly always does, I believe she means it. She loves Vuitton luggage. She loves Hermes scarves/Kelly bags/toilet paper dispensers. She loves frankly vapid conversation with former stars of That 70s Show just as much as she loves anything. Unchained in the high end boulevarde of post-meaning hell, Paris can no longer identify between the kind of love one reserves for people and the sort formerly reserved for Really Cute Shoes.
Emotions of the more purplish hues, it seems to me, are in over-supply. Passion, despair, fear and stinging love all seem to ooze more freely from the unglamorous rocks of the everyday. A heretofore unseen level of passion dominates the supermarket queue, the workplace, the acquisition of a throw rug.
One tempting way to explain this emotional gush is a reference to “stress”. It is popularly held that we are subjected to a great deal of stress.
Certainly, we are over-stimulated. Probably, we reside in a toxic cultural landscape where meaning and satisfaction have been ablated by sugary drinks, neo-conservatism and other fizzy distemper.
Stress, however, is no genuine excuse for our unstuck, post teenaged flock of feelings. My grandmother lived through the rather more identifiable stress of World War, depression and the introduction of packet mix cake. (Incidentally, as a former sponge champion, she regards this latter infraction as the worst.) And, to this day, she feels little need to show improper emotion. (With the exception of shouting at game shows and pictures of the prime minister.)
The term “stress” I think, has been cheapened by its overuse by nearly everyone. Just as the term “love” has been cheapened by overuse by Paris Hilton.