Random Thoughts from a Restless Mind

Dr. Darrell White's Personal Blog

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So Over “So”

In my mind how I imagine pundits and talking heads of all ages speaking the famous Sound of Music lyrics: “So, a needle pulling thread…”

Lake Superior State has published its 41st annual list of forbidden words. Words that have been abused, misused, or simply overused to a breaking point. Number 1 on this year’s list? “So”.

Yup. “So” is the new “um”, “uh”, or “like”, as annoyingly overused as any of these, but all the more obnoxious because it is especially favored by the young talking heads of the consultative and pundit class. Seriously, whether I agree of disagree with an “expert’s” opinion I can hardly listen to NPR, CNN, FOX, or even the NFL Today. Every sentence begins with “so”. It’s as if there’s a clause in each speaker’s ┬ácontract mandating that you do so.

See what I did there? That’s part of what makes it all so frustrating (see, I did it again). “So” is a perfectly good word, one that has so many legitimate uses it’s nothing short of criminal that it has been captured and held hostage by an undisciplined intelligentsia and their associated wannabes. Just as you don’t hear truly gifted speakers pepper their spoken thoughts with “uhh” and “um”(I never found this particular POTUS to be all that impressive as a speaker because of this), so, too, should we be spared an assault by this more pretentious verbal tic.

Here’s a resolution (see what I DIDN’T do there): I am giving an instant downgrade to the value of whatever is begin spoken by whoever whenever and wherever if he or she insists on beginning the majority of sentences or new thought threads with “so”. Even more so (Huh? Huh?), I’m thinking that it’s perfectly appropriate to simply tune out or turn off anything and anyone who does that. They all tend to be uber-plugged in to screens and tech and such, and if I did I’d probably have a ton more time to do stuff like read a book, pet Abby the wonder dog, or get on the floor and build a wooden block castle with little Landon, my grandson.

Do, ray, me, fa…la, tee, dah. So there.

You Can’t Have Everything

“I want to grab the big brass ring…”

There are a number of artists who hold dear philosophical and political views with which I can find little common ground, and yet I still find great pleasure in their art. Springsteen, of late, is a good example. An older, longer enjoyed example is Barbara Streisand. After breakfast this morning I found myself humming one of her classics, “Everything”, as I headed off to my next meeting.

[As an aside, I am presently at a huge convention for my day job. Did you know that 3 out of 4 doctors say that Las Vegas is bad for your health?]

You see, I’d just spent some time with a 30-something CEO of a really cool company who just returned to work after the birth of her first child, and just outside the restaurant I’d bumped into a 30-something rockstar among eye surgeons with whom I’d shared a drink last night and discussed how she was managing the work life balance of being a mother of two, busy surgeon, and in-demand expert in our field. We all agreed that balance was unobtainable for any of us, but all the more so for the women; the bar is pretty low for the family side of the balance for men. Old news.

Then, an epiphany. I’ve oft written that you can’t have it all, no matter who you are or what you do. Man or woman. But one of the women, the CEO, after a bit of thought disagreed. You CAN have it all, you just can’t have everything. The trick is in defining what “all” means for you and those closest to you. “All” must be examined, its content vetted and negotiated among the parties involved. Once fleshed out in this way “all” becomes an obtainable entity.

“All” is about balance; everything is about never, ever being in balance.

Needless to say the conversation with both of these very impressive, highly accomplished women pivoted instantly, all of the pressure and intensity of the balance challenge dissipated. Seriously, this is the first time I’ve been able to feel comfortable with some of the very famous women–think Sheryl Sanders, for example–who proclaim loud and long that you can, indeed, have it all. They are at the same time just as wrong as I’ve long held, but they may be more right than I’ve given them credit if they are talking about “all” and not “everything”.

I think my young friends are right, you can have it all as long as you are very clear about what having it all comprises. It’s when you confuse having it all with having everything that makes it not only impossible to have a life in balance, it may actually mean eventually not having much of a life at all.

“…give me everything, every thing.”