I received some profound advice from a crazy person once, in a Borders bookstore. I was in high school at the time, and my friend Brooke and I had unashamedly come only for the coffee and the magazines. We sat down at one of the tables, and right across from us there was this man with Einstein hair muttering to himself. We thought little of it, but as soon as we sat down, he started muttering louder. Then staring, then pointing, then REALLY loud muttering.
"I think he's trying to tell us something," I whispered.
"You girls are young. You girls are pretty. Let me tell you something. You wanna know something true?"
Me, to Brooke: "If he goes all John Nash and starts writing math problems on napkins, I'm walking out of here."
Brooke, to me: "I hope he doesn't stab us with his plastic knife." (Oh my word, I ADORE her.)
"If anyone ever starts a sentence with the word 'basically,' everything that comes out of their mouth after that is total bull****."
Shock. Silence. Polite (terrified) giggles. We s l o w l y grabbed our coffee cups and eased sideways out of our seats.
But you know what? 10 years later, EVERY time I hear someone start a sentence with "basically," I roll my eyes and think, "Here we go." Now, maybe I was brainwashed by the Einstein hair, but it feels like such a lazy word.
It's what you say when you don't feel like getting into the whole story. It's a word people use to evade questions and skirt around the whole truth. AND it's a very useful word when you have absolutely no idea WHAT you are talking about. Just start with "basically," and maybe follow it up with a nice cliche. "Basically, a stitch in time saves nine, you know." Presto! A meaningless statement that gets you out of nearly any conversation!
Ellen Degeneres says it brilliantly here: (Beginning at 4:00, through 5:25)
"...It's a slippery slope, my friend. Teach a man to fish and...there's no 'I' in team." Hilarious.
Urban Dictionary has this to say about the word "basically:"
1. basically: When you suspect someone of being an idiot, count how many times they say 'basically' when talking. "So, basically, at the end of the day, when all's said and done, basically, my vocabluary is really really basic."
2. basically: The mental state of someone who over-uses this word. "Basically you are basic."
So who's crazy? You tell me. This all got me to thinking, what other advice could be gleaned from the certifiably insane?
"Great things are done by a series of small things brought together."
"I feel that there is nothing more truly artistic than to love people."
"If you hear a voice within you say "you cannot paint," then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced."
"One must work and dare if one really wants to live."
"The way to know life is to love many things." [One certifiably insane Vincent Van Gogh]
I would have loved it if Van Gogh had muttered these things to me in a coffee shop.
Let's do the discussion thing. Do you have any pearls of wisdom? Advice that is golden? Please, share!