Have you ever been ‘justed‘ by anyone? Have you ever ‘justed‘ yourself?
This is perhaps a more personal post than usual, because this is a concept I find challenging to express, and one around which I feel fearful of being misunderstood. That said, when I read aloud what I wrote in response to this prompt, one of my fellow writers immediately shared that she had experienced something similar, so I’m hoping you’ll find resonance here.
The T S Eliot quote was one part of the genesis of this prompt, and the other was personal experience, both recent and historical. What I was trying to explore is this feeling of caring deeply about something which, on the face of it, really isn’t that important, really doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. And yet…it does matter. We care, and we don’t care. We know logically that there are more important things, and yet emotionally we feel powerfully engaged with this apparently trivial thing.
I think this is a bit of a tight rope. On the one hand, it’s important to keep perspective, and sometimes being reminded that ‘it’s just…’ can therefore be useful. At other times however, such a comment can devastate our dream space. Sometimes it’s vital, informative and enlivening to defy logic utterly, and put all our care and passion into something utterly ‘frivolous’.
What we make matters enormously, and it doesn’t matter at all.
Elizabeth Gilbert – BIG MAGIC
We won’t stay there. We’ll come back. It’s a testament to the fact that we have time, any time, to focus on something other than immediate survival that we are living and not just surviving, and I believe that is gifting life back for all the magic it bestows on us.
So, that’s a little background. In terms of the prompt, this is how it worked. I placed a bowl with blank bits of paper in the centre of the circle and asked everyone to take three and write something beginning, “It’s just…” and lay each paper out for all to read.
Then I asked each person to choose one of those, or indeed something else that now occurred to them, having brainstormed some ideas together, and write a story which included, somewhere within, the phrase, “It’s just…”
This is what I wrote, in ten minutes, unedited:
She can’t sleep. She needs to sleep. She can’t sleep. She can’t stop telling herself off for getting in such knots. “It’s just a poem,” she tells herself repeatedly, when at that gone midnight moment it clearly isn’t. So what’s going on? When is a poem not just a poem?
As dryly and cruelly, in another unhelpful tirade, “But there are children starving in Yemen, whales dying with hundreds of pieces of plastic debris inside them.” And the list of recent headlines goes on. “For God’s sake, get some perspective! It’s – a – po – em!”
She’s no closer to sleep. and her inside’s beginning to feel a bit bruised. She feels herself inwardly soothing those tender spots, and a softness comes:
“If you’re not allowed to care about the little things, how will you build the strength to care for the big stuff?”
She laughs a little, moves her pillow. She feels the edge of sleep move closer, and imagines falling off it.
She wakes before her alarm, and before she’s even consciously awake, begins rehearsing the poem in her mind, until she catches herself, and there’s an inner slap of; it doesn’t matter!
She turns the other inside cheek, and declares everything will matter today. The poem will be part of that, but every moment, every person, it will all – it does all – matter. And if it all matters, then the caring never stops, and is never more or less, it’s just care. And if everything matters, the poem does too.
If you enjoyed this prompt, then you can find more here: