The Spectrum of Blah
I was talking with a friend of mine, and we both used the phrase “blah blah blah” as filler for content that we could just gloss over in the conversation. However, by the end of the conversation, I ended up saying something like, “Sometimes, life is all about the ‘blah blah blah.'” We had a good laugh, ended the conversation, and immediately I sat down and thought about the “blah blah blah.”
As of this writing, I believe there is a “spectrum of blah.” On one side of this spectrum, we have stuff that is truly a waste of time. We’ll call this a “truly blah moment.” Things like navigating phone menus to talk to a human being, reading the agreements required to use your new cell phone or attempting to explain something to a disinterested and otherwise preoccupied party. On the other side of the spectrum, we have things which we might be tempted to disregard, but should really take time to appreciate. How about calling this a “faux blah moment.” Things like enjoying that 7,253rd cup of tea in life, enduring a boring business meeting, someone holding the door open at the grocery store or, as in the case of my friend, having a random conversation with a complete stranger about math.
We live in an era where television and movies cut out all the hard work and replace it with a three minute montage with some zesty background music. Those three minutes are the pivotal moment when the protagonist is actually learning and doing all the “blah blah blah” needed to make the final part of the story exciting. This pattern conditions us to believe only the “exciting” parts matter, but in real life, frequently, those moments which would never make the “movie version” of our autobiography turn out to be the most enriching parts of the journey.
Being Mindful with Blah
More recently, the notion of “mindfulness” has arrived to help us reconsider “blah blah blah.” The challenge though, is one of application. I am not sure I need to be more mindful when pressing “7” then “4” then waiting five minutes on hold. In fact, if something is a “truly blah moment”, then we should simply invest our time elsewhere if at all possible. No mindfulness required.
However, with a “faux blah moment” — those moments we are conditioned to take for granted either through sensationalism or just through brute force repetition — those moments are candidates ripe for mindfulness. Think of the kung fu movie where the warrior practices a particular punch for over 20 years to perfect it. Watching all 2,000,000 of those would be “truly blah,” but for the fighter who wants to perfect their punch, they had better be mindful if they want to realize any benefit from those 20 years.
Social Media and Blah
Now, having contemplated the spectrum of blah, and having realized that my 7,253rd cup of tea actually has meaning and is worth celebrating, I now feel a bit guilty for wagging my finger at people on social media when they post about having a cup of coffee, or some other repetitive task. In fact, it has created a paradigm shift for me – if one of my friends is truly feeling that cup of coffee moment, it is something we all identify with and can appreciate. Here, though, maybe it again comes down to application. If this person has 80 friends, then maybe that is a moment. But if that person has 1,800,000 friends. . . that’s just advertising, right? I don’t know.
May the Blah Be with You
In any event, may you enjoy and even savor the moments of “blah” in your life. Maybe you’ve seen that sunset thousands of times, maybe you’ve walked that same trail every single day, maybe you’ve held their hand countless times, maybe you inhale and exhale every moment. These moments may or may not be something you ever publish, post or discuss with a broader audience. People will try to make movies about these moments, but they are truly best experienced directly. They stand to be some of the best moments in life, so be sure to give yourself a little space to enjoy and appreciate them in this fast-paced, disruptive world. May the blah be with you.