Voboril: Don’t be stupid, be silly
Shenanigans abound as we round out the ski season. The pageantry, the plumage, the peanut butter, the potent potables, they are all part of the protocol, albeit one that portends palpitations for patrollers.
That creamy snow is a dream right up until it is a nightmare, just as it feels great to finally expose pasty skin and then horrible when you thereafter must bathe in aloe for a fortnight. The line between stupid and silly is a fine one worth accurately delineating.
Temporally topical, this distinction is also important in all facets of life. Silliness is the manifestation of priorities well-sorted, a joyful embracing of the absurdities of living on a flying rock that has liquid hot magma at its core. To recognize and to celebrate these realities in a manner that also recognizes consequences is a fraught balance.
Silly and serious are nominally antonyms, but I think of silliness less as frivolity and more a benign refusal to be brought down by the inevitable hardships that we all endure.
Silly is skiing around in a waddle of your penguin-suited friends, slashing pow turns at each other. Stupid is doing the same while loaded on a dozen Snowmelts. Silly is creating a ridiculous panda-based meme. Stupid is believing what you read on that Internet forum; really stupid is then deciding to act thereupon.
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Silly is consensual tickling. Stupid is groping, unless expressly solicited, in which case it would be called caressing. Silly is a knock-knock joke. Stupid is repeating that off-color anecdote with which your racist uncle regaled you.
We are wary of silliness. Once we embark on the path of silliness, the inertia inherent in that direction has the tendency to blow right into stupidity. The inclination to avoid stupidity is a trait of natural selection: the Darwin Awards are recognized posthumously, after all. But in adhering to this genetic predisposition, we end up tending to the overly serious. It is a common miscalibration, one that results in an unnecessary and avoidable amount of sorrow and/or stress.
Silliness is a perspective that illuminates. Inundated as we can be with strife, we may stupidly allow these petty conflicts to distract our attentions and sap our energies. Having a chuckle at the snafu, literally or proverbially, has the revelatory effect of reminding us that life is short and that truly little is worth a quarrel. Yes, imagining your adversary in a compromising position is not especially charitable, but if it is an internal sin and it makes you laugh, then perhaps it is not a venal one.
“Saturday Light Live” has amused me more in the past few months than it has in a long time. Able to avoid focusing on the weekly stupidities that characterized the prior age, there is more room for silliness, for the absurd characters and the little inanities of life in today’s America. Wish it were that the show could avoid ridiculing our stupidity entirely, but it is a show about humans, so that is an impossible feat.
Now more mindful of the thin divide between stupidity and silliness, let that guide your actions this closing weekend and spring break. As we slowly and hopefully escape the grip of this infernal pandemic, there is an extremely understandable urge to mash the throttle, repercussions be damned. If you are to throw caution to the wind, perhaps let it be a light, pinwheel-spinning breeze and not a gale-force vortex of doom.