beautiful small chocolate cake

When asked whether she’d like a mushroom omelet or one with asparagus, she tells her uncle that she doesn’t really care — to which he replies: “You should never say that again, dear girl. It is stupid, which you are not… So make up your mind, before you open your mouth.”

Listen to me read the following here:


 

I’ve come to realize a tic in myself and in others. It exhibits as a shrug, or in the tossed-off line, “I don’t care.”

What do you want for dinner? Doesn’t matter.

What do you want to do today? Ah, whatever you want to do — I don’t care one way or the other.

The problem with saying this so frequently, and in so many situations, is twofold.

First off, we usually do have an opinion, even about seemingly insignificant choices. It might not throw my world out of orbit if I end up eating Thai food, but given my druthers, I’d prefer a gluten-free enchilada.

More importantly, the decision to not give an opinion slackens the muscles that allow us to say that we do, in fact, give a damn. Getting used to saying that we don’t care paves the way for mealy-mouthed agreement or disagreement in the future, whether that means dealings with clients or service providers, or decisions in a romantic partnership.

In her essay, “Uncle Evans,” MFK Fisher describes an experience in a train’s dining car while riding with the eponymous uncle. She was eighteen. When asked whether she’d like a mushroom omelet or one with asparagus, she tells her uncle that she doesn’t really care — to which he replies:

“You should never say that again, dear girl. It is stupid, which you are not… So make up your mind, before you open your mouth.”

Though Uncle Evans’s lesson is partially about seducing future beaus, it is also, as Fisher recalls, what he calls “the more important part of knowing yourself.” She concludes the essay with this: “…I either care or I’m a dolt, and dolts should not consort with caring people.”

And so, if we do indeed care, let us exercise our ability to speak of our caring. Because that ability matters, even if the particulars don’t.

 

& also: Other things that I have opinions about? Self-care, redefining ambition, and this essential (a word I don’t use lightly) post about accessibility, written for content creators. Finally: the fact that there’s more to life with mental illness than being mentally ill — and that there’s more to life with mental illness than acting as though that illness doesn’t exist.