Comfort in Cliches

“Morals always sound like cliches, but usually cliches are based on things that are ultimate truths. Be grateful for what you have; appreciate what’s right there in front of you.” – Henry Selick

As I’m getting used to the idea of blogging regularly, I have been spending a lot of time thinking about what to write instead of writing it. Depending on the type of day I’ve had, I’ll either lie to myself and say that this is because I have so many ideas that I just can’t get them all out. If it’s a really rough day, this logic is just flawed enough to make perfect sense to me. But if I’m being real with myself, it’s because a.) writing is hard, harder than I remember, and I’m out of practice, and b.) I am able to talk myself out of a lot of the ideas I come up with because they all seem cliche.

I was driving home from work the other day, on a main road that squeezes four lanes of traffic together and is occupied by people driving too fast in the five o’clock hour. The road winds a bit, and up around the corner I could hear sirens before I could see them. I was already in the right lane, so I slowed to a stop and everyone made room for our left lane friends, all before the ambulance or cop or fire truck was even in sight.This is a long-winded story to explain that, at this moment, the beauty of cliches struck me. Maybe it’s because I was listening to the perfect Bon Iver ride-home soundtrack, or the breeze and the sun were foreshadowing a beautiful evening, but I realized that cliches are cliches because they create universality between all kinds of people.

Just like a siren from an emergency vehicle elicits the same response from everyone, just like an adorable baby in a grocery store will make strangers all smile at each other after the baby is long out of sight, or just like people will all look at the sky after a storm when the sun reappears, there’s a thin but high-voltage wire of connection between people. To spark this connection is not easy anymore, with faster paces, the Internet, all that stuff.

To say that running in the rain can be life-changing, or that reading a great story is like leaving one reality and entering another one would be to repeat what hundreds of thousands of maybe millions of people have said many times before. But these statements and all the other cliches of the world can still be true, and each person can offer a variation in perspective on something that’s been said or done before, while still enabling the universality of the cliche. I think I enjoy small moments of deep human connection enough to risk repeating something that has been said a million times before, so welcome to my cliche blog. ◊

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