I did something new today. Today, on September 21st, I actually paid attention to and cared about a football match.
Note that by football, I don’t mean football…
Liverpool played Southampton (and lost, annoyingly), and I had the BBC sports page up on my computer and the app running on my iPod and I actually paid attention and I followed the game and I found that I actually cared about it. This is weird for me, because I’m literally the least athletic person of all time and have never been able to pay attention to matches and games and competitions… I swam competitively for three years and while I enjoyed swimming itself, I could never really get into the competition and watching other people swim is, let’s be honest, one of the most boring things of all time. I couldn’t really understand the appeal to watching a bunch of grown sweaty men run all over a field; and I still can’t explain it besides to say that it was actually sort of fun to force myself to care.
I wouldn’t have put myself into the disposition to care if it hadn’t been for a friend of mine talking about the match, but I found that once I put myself into the mindset of “I’m going to pay attention and care” instead of “ugh, sports are idiotic and lowbrow”, I actually enjoyed myself. It made me start thinking about how lately I’ve been developing sort of a superiority complex, and how maybe the reason I’ve been grumpier and enjoying things less is because I’ve been in the predisposition to not enjoy them.
I haven’t read any random Young Adult books for a while because I’m finding classic literature more worthwhile; which is fine in and of itself that I prefer a certain type of literature—the problem arises when I start thinking YA is poorly written and inferior because it’s not “classic literature”. I mean, there’s a lot of YA section trash these days, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t still good YA literature. Sure, it’s not Dickens or Brontë or F. Scott Fitzgerald, but it’s still well written and still fun to read. (Look at The Fault in Our Stars, for instance.) I feel like sometimes I get so hung up on the classics that I forget that they were popular novels in their day, and that dismissing popular novels for being popular makes me some sort of ridiculous hipster and makes it so I can’t enjoy them.
I find myself being dismissive of music in Mass because it’s not Gregorian chant/in Latin/written by St. Thomas Aquinas—so I don’t sing it! The stupidity of this dawned on me when I saw an obviously very traditional family (chapel veils, the whole nine yards) sitting in front of me, singing along to the happy-go-lucky, hippy-Catholic music that irked me so much. I realized that just because I’m slanted traditionally doesn’t mean other things are inferior, and that Jesus would much prefer it if I actually sang to Him instead of judging everyone else to be lesser for singing music I didn’t like. I do the same thing with pop music, too. Okay, Miley Cyrus is really gross right now, and there can be/is a lot of garbage in popular music; but that doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with enjoying it! I’m not say that objectively Beethoven or Bach isn’t better than One Direction (because it definitely is), I’m saying that it’s wrong of me to judge others on a personal preference. Why can’t I just let go and have fun when ‘Call Me Maybe’ comes on the radio, even though I know I enjoy myself if I sing along and dance like an idiot? Because I’m embarrassed that I know the words, I know it’s “bad music”, so I make myself uptight and rigid and end up being cranky and not having any fun, and getting irritated with my friends for “actually liking this stuff.”
I recently finished This Side of Paradise, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, and the main character, Amory, always sees his relationships like a mirror: he loves people who are like him. He sees himself in other people, and that’s what he loves about them. While it’s great to have friends with similar interests, that is not what friendship or love is. I don’t want to become like Amory. I don’t want to be unable to be friends with people who think philosophy is dumb or reject people on the basis of the fact that they can’t listen to classical music and instead prefer hip-hop.
Maybe that’s why I made myself care about the football match today. To care about something else for the sake of another person… Or maybe to realize that just because something isn’t the highest or most intellectual pursuit, it doesn’t mean it’s worthless or something to dismiss. (The ancient Athenians believed that perfection of the body through sport and gymnastics was just as important as mental perfection, after all. 😉 )
But really what I’m saying is that I need to stop being superior. I need to stop being a snob; being a snob takes the fun out of life and I’ve been experiencing that really concretely recently. I’m proud of myself in that I’m empathetic and try my best to understand people—but when I judge their interests and tastes (or lack of interest in my interests or tastes), I’m dismissing them unfairly… I’m not understanding, I’m not being empathetic: I’m being Amory Blaine, who finally stopped being an egotist, but never stopped being miserable.