laugh and kiss him back

Sometimes you have to hand things over to the bigger picture. You have to do this when you just don’t know anymore.

photo by Toby Burrows
photo by Toby Burrows

I have an “issue” just now. I won’t detail, as it’s…too detailed. There are a clusterf*ck of ideas, options, angles, directions attached to solving this issue and I’m stuck in it all. This happens to me a lot. I scan all options weighing them all up, and the net result, in the wash, after everything has been considered is…nothing. Imagine you have 234729375 strings attached to your person, each being pulled outward at even tension. The result? You don’t move. Ergo, nothing.

When this happens, I stop thinking. I can’t logically process….anything.

I just don’t know anymore.


I descend into this numb-but-frantic space where – and this is the worst bit – I attract even worse clusterf*ckness and nothingness. Everything in my life ceases to work. How about a small insight into what I mean: to get ahead on 1/23948737th of my “issue”, I need the approval of a particular person. It’s taken weeks to work out that this person is the one who needs to sign off on this bit of my issue. I finally find them. Contact them. And, lo, they’ve just last week had a heart attack and, tragically, are currently in a coma in hospital. It’s no laughing matter, but it’s definitely absurd. This is one example of many instances where my stuckness has beget stuckness.

There are reasons for the stuckness. When we make too many decisions (and every angle, direction considered is a decision) we wear out our decision-making muscle. We get too tired to decide. That there, folks is the paradox of choice.

But, also, we just get too damn serious. We lose our playfulness.

And life is playful. It responds well to a playful attitude.


And so it was that yesterday I came across this wisdom plucked from  a little book Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar, a collection of agony aunt columns by one Dear Sugar, whose real name is wonderfully Cheryl Strayed (I personally think her real name is better than the plume).

When you meet a man in the doorway of a Mexican restaurant who later kisses you while explaining that this kiss doesn’t ‘mean anything’ because, much as he likes you, he is not interested in having a relationship with you or anyone right now, just laugh and kiss him back. Your daughter will have his sense of humor. Your son will have his eyes.

The useless days will add up to something. The shitty waitressing jobs. The hours writing in your journal. The long meandering walks. The hours reading poetry and story collections and novels and dead people’s diaries and wondering about sex and God and whether you should shave under your arms or not. These things are your becoming.

I adore this. “Just laugh and kiss him back”. Where does all this fit in with my stuckness? It reminds me that it’s OK not to know anymore. I don’t know where my pfaffing will take me. I don’t know my way out of my indecision. I just don’t know. But, like a shitty waitressing job, it will take me somewhere. My shitty waitressing jobs certainly did (they led to dating the chef – my best relationship ever – and becoming a food writer).

The trick? The take-home before you get onto your work emails this morning?

Laugh when you get stuck and get playful.

Say to yourself, let’s see where this winds up. Let’s see how absurd it can get, how many signs I can get. Let’s see how loud and ridiculous the signs can get.

Let’s see what story will unfold. Write it down. Refer back to it to view the story with hindsight.

Let’s have a break from things and take our hands off the steering wheel. Let’s do something brash and nihilistic and playful instead. To this end: I’ve deleted all emails back and forth pertaining to my issue. I’ve crossed out my “to-dos” pertaining to my issue. Let’s see what unfolds….

Laugh and kiss life back. Yeah! This ever worked for you?

Share this post