Be Uncool {Day 18 in 31 Days of Filling the Well}

I’d like to share a secret with you: I love ABBA. And all manner of cheesy 70s pop.

There’s more. Do you remember several years ago when the first Dark Knight movie opened after Heath Ledger’s death, and everyone and their mother went to the opening night? Well, I also happened to go to the movie theater that night, but I was shocked to see the crowds there. (Second secret: I’ve never seen a Batman movie). As we got in the massive line, I turned to my friend and said, “Wow! Do you think all these people are here for the premiere of Mamma Mia too?” The man in front of us slowly swiveled around and stared.

(For the record, I would like to ask all Dark Knight goers whether they got to sing along with their movie that night. And whether their movie ended with the entire movie theater getting up to dance to “Waterloo.” A true story.)

Really, it’s okay if you love Batman just as much as I love ABBA. In fact, that’s fantastic. My point – and I do have one – is that we do not get to choose what gives us joy. Superhero movies or cheesy 70’s pop music.

When I first started this series, I made a list of what filled my well. I wrote about the bright beams of joy that sustain me through dark days: bluebirds, milkshakes, bonfires. This list is absolutely, authentically true, and it brings me so much joy each time I look at it. At the same time, perhaps it’s not entirely…complete.

I love ABBA. And while we’re at it, I’ll clear the other musical skeletons in my closet – Meat Loaf, the soundtrack to Cats, and Hilary Duff’s debut album.  I take great joy in all manner of newspaper puzzles. Sometimes I pretend I am competing in the crosswording Olympics. Don’t even get me started about the moment of discovery of the final Jumble clue. I adore young adult literature, and I rank the fourth installment of the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants among my life-changing books.

In other words, I am devastatingly “uncool.”

I also take great joy in things I ought to have “no business” enjoying – things at which I am, by all conventional means of measurement, terrible. Painting, singing, Zumba, learning Spanish – according to our success-oriented culture, I ought to be miserable with these pursuits. But I cannot get enough.

Yes, I’ve often wished I was the “kind of person” who found joy in marathon running, bar hopping, or symphony-going. I’ve watched myself construct elaborate, utterly false answers to questions about my “cool” hobbies or music tastes. More than once, I’ve feigned ignorance about Harry Potter or Broadway musicals because I wanted to keep my “uncool” card tucked away.

But cool has no place in the business of well-filling joys. Rationality has no place in that business either. The business of joy is nothing more and nothing less than our souls responding to the beautiful, silly, countercultural,, “embarrassing” things that make it sing. 

We don’t get to choose what gives us joy. We do get to choose how we respond. We get to choose whether we put our time, energy, and money toward being cool or toward responding to that inexplicable, nonsensical, joy-filled call of our souls.


8 thoughts on “Be Uncool {Day 18 in 31 Days of Filling the Well}

  1. Yes. Meatloaf turned way up high. And singing along at the top of my lungs. Joy. Are you saying that makes us uncool?!?!?!

    Do you do your own photography? Your photos that accompany your posts are stellar.

    • Absolutely not, my friend! Uncool by conventional standards, perhaps. But if belting out “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” is wrong, I don’t want to be right.

      And I really wish I did my own photography – one of those dreams I hope to follow soon! For now, the pictures link to the original sources when you click on them.

  2. Love it. I own my uncool more and more as I grow up – my complete devotion to Barbra Streisand, the fact that the person I’d most love to have lunch with is Angela Lansbury, and I’ve seen every single episode of Murder She Wrote twice. I’ve noticed how, when I’m honest about these things, I always find other people who are like, “What?! ME TOO!” It’s nice. 🙂

  3. this is so cute! i would like to say: i also love abba. i also get stared at strangely for that admission. but i agree with everything here: NO ONE is cool. NO ONE. we are all dorky, we all have our “things”. remembering that helped immensely with social anxiety.

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