A Rather Fabulous Sense of Insouciance

Elizabeth Gilbert in Big Magic, writing about her parents:

They were responsible people. Taxpayers. Solid. Voted for Reagan. (Twice!) I learned how to be a rebel from them. Because—just beyond the reach of their basic good citizenship—my parents did whatever the hell they wanted to do with their lives, and they did it with a rather fabulous sense of insouciance. My father decided that he didn’t merely want to be a chemical engineer; he also wanted to be a Christmas-tree farmer, and so in 1973 he went and did that. He moved us out to a farm, cleared some land, planted some seedlings, and commenced with his project. He didn’t quit his day job to follow his dream; he just folded his dream into his everyday life. He wanted to raise goats, too, so he acquired some goats. Brought them home in the backseat of our Ford Pinto.

I LOVE “a rather fabulous sense of insouciance.” I’m still recovering from my addiction to other people’s opinions of me. So insouciance is a state of being to strive for.

I wish insouciance for my job-seeking students. Take all the energy you would invest in worrying that you won’t get the interview or you won’t get the offer or you will be deemed unqualified or that your fatal deficiencies will be discovered and redirect it to exploring and creating opportunities.

Apply. Reach out and inquire. Have an uncomfortable, anxious-making phone call with someone you want to impress.

And when the bounce doesn’t go your way, say out loud, “Their loss. Onward.” I do mean this literally. Out loud.

I have to work very hard on insouciance. The best way I have found to do it is to remind myself that this a big, wide world with many paths. There is not one right path. Keep moving. Keep momentum. You (I) will find something. It might not be what you thought you were looking for. And that’s more than OK.

p.s. This also seems like an appropriate time to confess that my family had two Pintos. First the brown one and then the green one. I have always been fabulously insouciant about cars, but I am attentive enough to modern culture to know that having not just one, but two Pintos is beyond the pale, or beyond something, at least. Beyond souciance?!

2 Comment

  1. Nick Campion says: Reply

    Hakuna Matata?

  2. Professor Newton says: Reply

    Hey Laura … the two pintos were sequential, not concurrent. The first Pinto got wiped out on a foggy day when I tried to make a left turn across Culver Drive, the main drag in the area where you grew up …. I literally never saw what hit me. Fortunately I wasn’t hurt. I survived. The brown Pinto did not. The modest insurance money from the crash was the down payment on the green Pinto. Hell’s bells … we needed two cars. Your mother got the Oldsmobile in those years. I was relegated to the Pintos

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