Recently, I was bored. Seriously lacking in inspiration. Given my inflated sense of my own intelligence I took to trawling through dense publications on modern philosophy to try and kick-start some stimulating ideas. “I want witty, with depth” I kept thinking, “big ideas with a humorous kick … meaningful stuff”. Smart.
As I read and re-read Descartes’ opening paragraph I found myself fidgeting. I’d sideways-glance out the window and indulge in another fantasy about a nobel prize win and the to-die-for frock I’d wear to the ceremony. “Who should I thank? … Well, Descartes obviously, because I’m about to paraphrase his brilliance in a new and profound way …”. Smart. Yes. “Now, where was I up to in Principia philosophiae?”. Paragraph one. Still. I felt dumb.
As I realised that this path to inspiration wasn’t working I decided to spend some time watching other people being interested in stuff. Yes. I’d watch the inspired!
As far as inspired goes, I don’t think you can go past Carl Sagan. It’s not just his kermit-the-frog-sounding voice and gargantuan intellect that keep me enthralled, it’s something more. There’s a charisma about him that defies taste, I think. Just like with Brad Pitt – it doesn’t matter what you’re into, you’ve gotta love him.
As I sat down and began to watch his “Cosmos” series on DVD I came to understand that the charisma of Carl Sagan is due to his utter fascination with absolutely everything. He’s one of those people who can express their sincere enthusiasm for something so clearly that you feel you’ve wasted your life not pursuing the object of their interest. As I watched I wanted to be Carl. Yes. Smart like Carl.
Of course, at this point, I wasn’t able to think of a single thing that I was even mildly enthusiastic about (except Carl). I stopped the DVD so that I could slip into utter despair that I wasn’t even smart enough to find inspiration, let alone smart enough to be smart with it.
No more than 10 minutes later a package arrived in the mail. It was addressed “to Georgia Keighery the Columnist”. Opening it I found it was a birthday present from my darling Uncle Marco. In his infinite wisdom he had sent me a copy of a hard-back Disney book entitled “World of Princesses: A glittering guide to being a princess”. The target audience for this publication would be between the ages of 2 and 8.
Contained within the big, pink, sparkling book a girl can find gems of wisdom on everything from how to use ribbons or flowers in your hair if you want a “simpler look” than your tiara, to which fabrics are best for your ball-gown. I poured over the pages advising you not to worry if your portion-size at a royal banquet is too small (there’s probably more courses on the way apparently) and informing you on how to pin your hair back if you’re a princess who likes to read. There are pop-ups of castles, cut-out princesses with a variety of paper princess frocks to dress them in, your very own Royal Ball Dance Card … And, the creme de la creme: instructions oh how to braid your pony’s mane (without the stern caution against leaving my horse’s hair in braids overnight, I would never have known).
I spent a solid 2 hours completely engrossed.
In one of my favourite quotes of all time, G. K. Chesterton said, “We are perishing for a want of wonder, not a want of wonders”. So very true. I’d like to add “a want of tiaras” to that. The truth is, when I get caught up in lofty ideas of “intellectual engagement” I generally forget to pay attention to to my enthusiasms (doused in glitter though they may be). I get so caught up in wanting to be “smart” it becomes positively slapstick and I become utterly bored.
As Jalal ad-Din Rumi so fabulously put it: “Sell your cleverness and buy bewilderment”. Well I’d happily trade what little cleverness I have for a copy of “World of Princesses” any day of the week … Did I mention that there was a paper tiara that you could tear out of the book and fold into a headpiece? … Well there was. And I’m wearing it now. I have never felt more full of wonder. And I have to say, I look very smart in it!