Massachusetts Daily Collegian

The illusion of importance

By Nick O'Malley

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I’m spoiled.

For approximately four years, I’ve had a creative outlet that has let me write pretty much any of the junk I’d send in, including: a column about my glue stick, a rhyming beer column, something about how bacon is the symbol of our generation, a paper cups column, articles on both cheese and unicorn steaks, columns about that time I went to Ireland and a column that was just me complaining about things.

Not everybody gets that, especially in the real world. It’s good, because I really do like writing, ever since Mr. Plante taught me how to do it in my junior year of high school. I like that, no matter how crazy my college career got, I never gave up the column.

I hate everything. Well, I like to say I do. It’s something that can only be said when the good things are either truly ingrained into life or taken for granted. I try to keep it in the former.

It’s easy to lose, though, the Little Things in life. The things you don’t hate.

I like the Little Things, the nuances, the little in-jokes, references and old stories that define friendships and family. I don’t believe in the Big Things. It’s a label, a lame reason to gloss over the effort that goes into defining these things.

There’s the old story about the professor who fills a jar with big rocks, then little rocks, then pebbles and then sand. It’s crap. Life should always be fine grains of sand. The rocks are useless, cumbersome excuses to say that something is important in your life. But that’s now how the Things in life work. They’re all intertwined and full of little intricacies. A rock takes things for granite and lives with blunt definitions.

That’s not the way to go through life. You’ve got to enjoy the Little Things. Here’s a few:

I like good beer (I like it the way I like my women.). I like playing old SNES RPGs, over-leveling my characters and then coasting through the rest of the game. I like the NFL Draft more than should be deemed necessary for a sane person. I like puns and portmanteaus – punmanteaus. I like being left-handed as a character trait. I like putting fried eggs on top of various food items. I like working; it’s better than not working, even if it’s not good for me. I like how I forget, on a pretty consistent basis, that I lived in Europe for five months.

I like stumbling onto something I could build four years of my life around on the second floor of a dorm – twice. I like how I’m going to get crap for being reflective and emotional.

I like clumsy Sesame Street interns who come back to help with the insanity and call people muffin. I like racing to pull the seventh needle, video game arrangements in Finale and calling someone my roommate two years since we’d lived together. I like Flynnritos, Yoshi rides and still being able to maintain a friendship even though it’s weird (I know you know). I like smoking beers, speaking Panda and picking people up from Mobil stations in the middle of the night. I like hedgehogs, bad decisions that are good for you and favorites. I like General Silver Bruce Iron Liver Campbell Panther Dragons of the West, drinking rum in the freezing cold and that one thing we talked about that we won’t bring up again. I like people who eat food cold even though it’s weird, who always seem aloof, even though they’re always there when it counts.

I like people who can’t say no to others and never ask for anything in return. I like those who work their ass off so others can have what they can’t, even if they have to wear a damn apron to do so. I like Icemen, people who don’t know they’re idols, people I can talk with about nerdy things. I like people who cosplay, who stress out over everything and, after it all, I get along with really well.

I like crazed half-pint editors who are ambitious enough to move up against a friend, take me on cigarette breaks even though I don’t smoke and put me into a room to get me to talk finally. I like adding Bob to other peoples’ names for no reason. I like someone who picks himself up after being at the bottom and is Happy for once. I like squids and doing stupid things. I like Tasmanian Devils, even when they disappear back into Belchertown.

I like people with too many catch phrases and who find the mind-bogglingly boring parts of Madden as excited as I do. I like people that know where they stand in life. I like redheads. I like knowing that someone’s smarter than me and that, no matter where we go in life, it’s better than Bellingham. I like helping people get away from the dregs of life (Whole Foods) to paradise (Ireland).

I like hating everything.

I like dungeons. I like talented, bitter assistant editors, go-to podcast guys and editors that are both broey and goofy. I like the Old Guard, especially Snowmiser and Heatmiser, but can’t forget about the gifted but mopey one and the one who put up with Morris with me. I like goofy, unlikely successors, grandpas and telling twins apart, because identity matters.

The Big Things are the bane of a healthy existence. Friends drift in and out, family members move away, people pass on before their time. There’s no room in life for the Big Things, lest your risk your life giving way from life yanking away a boulder.

This is a pessimistic thought, but it’s not without an upside. It’s true, life that’s why the Little Things matter. So that you can build something that will keep you happy when life starts to suck – and it will.

Because, at the moment, I don’t know if this is everything I want. But I sure as hell have something.

Nick O’Malley was The Collegian. He can be reached the same old way. He’s not going that far.


2 Responses to “The illusion of importance”

  1. Mike Gillmeister on May 3rd, 2011 1:42 pm

    Great column, Nick. It’s this type of writing that editors love because it shows who you are, completely. Never change, because you would be doing the rest of the world a GREAT disservice.


  2. mason on April 13th, 2012 10:15 am

    I am not sure if that is a tongue in cheek comment or if he is being serious as in his disservice is providing a service by showing the world what we should not aspire to be?


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