“What seems to us serious, significant and important will, in future times, be forgotten or won’t seem important at all. And it’s curious that we can’t possibly tell what exactly will be considered great and important, and what will seem petty and ridiculous.” Anton Chekhov
There are many apocryphal stories about people who have fallen out, rifts that have cut deep and lasted so long that those involved are said to forget the actual reason that trigged the row in the first place. Habit, pride or the two things combined can prevent warring parties from stepping down, even when it doesn’t matter anymore, when the whole commotion has become insignificant. There’s nothing like space and time for putting a different complexion on life’s botherations; for coming to a realisation that maybe it wasn’t ever such a big deal in the first place; that a mountain had been made out of a molehill. But when we are in the middle of something that we know to be significant, important, maybe even – at the time – crushing, then we need our moment to climb a mountain and yell our distress from on high, living life in epic, high drama.
I love high drama. In the past have come home to my mother and literally thrown myself onto the kitchen floor to writhe in emotional agony and scream incoherently about my problems, which she then addresses with a steady, even hand, only after ascertaining that I am not having a heart attack. I’ve had defeats and disappointments that I thought I would never get over, and now, with a few years under my belt, I shake my head and laugh in bewilderment at how much I managed to blow everything out of all proportion. I’m not invalidating those critical moments that, at the time, felt like life-threatening events, and I’ll do it again (I am what I am, and all that) but life may have been easier if I had infused the event with a little less significance, held on a little less tenaciously.
We still sweat the small stuff, even when the world is in crisis – that’s all I’m saying. And I’m reminding myself that my ever-so-important and pressing problems are a lot less significant than I think they are.
Epic, Patrick Kavanagh
I have lived in important places, times
When great events were decided; who owned
That half a rood of rock, a no-man’s land
Surrounded by our pitchfork-armed claims.
I heard the Duffys shouting ‘Damn your soul!’
And old McCabe stripped to the waist, seen
Step the plot defying blue cast-steel –
‘Here is the march along these iron stones’
That was the year of the Munich bother. Which
Was more important? I inclined
To lose my faith in Ballyrush and Gortin
Till Homer’s ghost came whispering to my mind.
He said: I made the Iliad from such
A local row. Gods make their own importance.