The Art of Blowing Things Off
Because the best holidays are the ones we make for ourselves.
I wasn’t going to write this newsletter.
Because I had a low-level migraine for the better part of this week.
Because that migraine is the result of a too-much, too-busy, too-everything year.
Because I’m fried. (People tell me I have a problem with saying yes to too many things, and, yes, they’re right: I’m uncomfortable if I’m not doing something).
But then I read an essayette, “Blowing it off,” in Ross Gay’s Book of Delights, and I thought about what a delight it is to blow things off. I thought about how some of the most joyous times of my life occurred when I skipped school or skipped work or just decided to pretend that something didn’t matter (“decided to pretend” is the key cognitive moment here).
We know the dangers of blowing things off, but I think we tend to forget the joys. The harumphing march of our lives possesses such a bossy vigor and insistence that it can smother our need to drift, meander, disappear.
Blowing things off can be interpreted as a way to listen to yourself.
Blowing things off is a way to listen to the world.
We are incarcerated in our shoulds, our achievements, our aspirations, our productivity, and even our goodness and our responsibilities and our pains.
The phrase “playing hooky” (such a delightful phrase itself) comes from nineteenth-century New York City slang, and it’s thought to have its roots in the Dutch word hoekje, or “hide-and-seek.”
We need to hide from the world to seek ourselves, in other words.
When you blow things off, it is almost as if you don’t have a choice. It’s as if you’re being pulled by a mysterious gravitational force. An invitation hangs in the air. You didn’t search for it. You found it.
Blowing things off is an act of surrender — surrendering to yourself, but also surrendering to something bigger. Surrender is a type of divine experience because we somehow become ourselves when we lose ourselves.