When American actor James Caan died in July of this year, I heard that his least favorite words were “I don’t care.”
Obviously, I can’t ask him to elaborate on that. But if I’m trying to take his point, I’m guessing he was aiming for “I don’t care” – as in, it is of no consequence to me. I don’t care – as in, it will fail to penetrate my reality one way or the other. I don’t care – as in, it or you are not worth getting worked up about.
But sometimes I think we take caring too far. As if we should have an opinion about everything from what kind of brands are okay to wear, the exact specifications for the type of liquor we’ll drink and whether we can only shop at boutique and artsy stores.
When I’ve mistakenly worn my opinions as some armor of sophistication, I’ve found that it’s closed me off from life. It becomes a barrier between me and experience so that I have to surmount my own expectations before I can taste curiosity.
My dad had a mantra that he used for golf, “You need to care less without being careless.” And I think it works for more than just that silly sport (sorry golf lovers). It speaks to a balance that we can create between being involved in the world without gripping too tight.
We can have opinions, beliefs and wisdom while still holding space for not knowing. It means that sometimes we can embrace our lack of control and be entirely open to what comes next. And it suggests that we can maintain a curiosity even when we think we are right.
There is one more way that I believe caring can get in our way, especially when trying to find our authentic voice. We can care too much about the opinion of others, especially in our social media age. And then what we say and what we write becomes performative instead of real. This brings to mind a quote from Mark Nepo, one of my favorite poets:
This is at once the clearest of spiritual intents and yet the hardest to stay true to: how to stay open to what others feel and not what they think. – Mark NepoTweet
So, I applaud James Caan for having a phrase that he said often enough to make it repeatable. But I have to admit, I don’t care for it.
Does this strike you in any way that makes you care to like or comment? Or do you have a favorite phrase that it reminds you of? Please share.
For more posts like this – a little story-telling mixed with philosophy, please visit my personal blog at https://wynneleon.wordpress.com or follow me on Instagram @wynneleon
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(featured photo from Pexels)