From Platitude to Profound

22 Aug

I recently came across a saying that made me think, “Wow – that’s so profound,” but then 10 minutes later made me think, “Wow – that’s so sappy! How could that be profound?” So I wonder, what makes something have staying power in my head?

When I was much younger, I was introduced to a wonderful serious cartoon show on MTV’s Liquid Television called The Maxx. If you haven’t seen it before, do… but only watch it in 15 minute chunks, because otherwise, it’s so g-d depressing. But in one of the scenes, Sarah, the teenage girl has a moment where:

And then just as I go to leave, the weirdest thing pops into my head. This poster in my mom’s room. One of the those sickening, sticky sweet, big eyed kids message posters, you know the kind, I think it goes something like “and the day came when the risk to remain closed in a bud became more painful then the risk it took to blossom”. Ugh, so this poster thing keeps popping into me head and I’m staring at the horse and he’s staring back and nothing’s happening. And this bad poem keeps running over and over in head. It won’t stop. And suddenly I feel tears running down my–oh god, I know what you’re thinking. Oh how sweet, the big eyed kid poem is making her cry. And it’s not that. And I’m thinking please please please god please don’t let my spirit animal talk to me through a hypoglycemic poster. Letting something this profound be conveyed in words this trite. Please don’t let the horse speak to me this way. But it was too late because I had heard it and I could never go back again.

Turns out that the quote is from Anais Nin, but I love that line – Letting something this profound be conveyed in words this trite – because sometimes the things that stick with us are really… really stupid.

So perhaps the transition from meme to platitude (overused saying) to maxim (those quotes that you use all the time) is just when it hits you. For example, “There’s word for losing a parent, we call them orphans. There is no word for losing a child. That’s how painful it is.” At first, this sounded so cool I wrote it down. I’ve known friends who’ve lost children and it hurt and I still have a visceral reaction when I read that line, but since I’ve only lost children through miscarriages, it doesn’t have the same effect. Sure, it hurt, but not as much as someone who actually lived with a baby or a child for a longer time.

I’ll spend some time working on my favorite maxims in future posts, but for now, am I off base? When does a saying become a platitude to you? Let me know in the comments below!

2 Responses to “From Platitude to Profound”

  1. lyncrain August 22, 2020 at 10:22 am #

    My mother had a picture of a young woman and an older woman hanging in her room that said, “Some day child you will be happy to be me.” That has haunted me all of my life, and I have done everything I possibly can to make sure I’ve never been her. But I still see that picture in my head, taunting me.

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  1. “To Seek Simplicity Rather Than Sophistication.” | Albigensia Press - September 5, 2020

    […] don’t like to come across too profound; I find it rather silly… too easy… and rather insincere. I find that to also be the […]

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