I’ve been mulling over the concept of ‘earnestness’ a lot lately. I’ve been thinking that this bitch deserves an image overhaul, an embracing of just how GREAT (or important, hah) it is to be earnest.
Earnestness is something That Jess Likes.
Take the Sydney Opera House’s new Ship Song Project. There is nothing cool, dark or mysterious about it. It is a bunch of passionate professionals saying “WE LOVE THE OPERA HOUSE A WHOLE LOT” and they are sharing their talents in order to put that idea into the world (and I guess to sell tickets to more shows, but Playwright-Hat Jess views this as acceptable). And as much as Daniel Johns looks like an puffy over-serious douche and Katie Noonan has nowhere near enough face-time, the sentiment is there. A bunch of talented people care about something special.
And to further drill home this idea, today I finally watched the movie Bright Star, which was earnest in a whole lot of different ways. There’s the heartbreakingly beautiful scene of optimism and hope where Keats and Fanny plan their imaginary future in the face of insurmountable barriers, and it is so cruel, yet earnest. There is the flinch-worthy scene where the two lovers spout a poem to each other, taking turns to simper out the lines, and it is cheesy, yet earnest. Then at the end of the movie, a disembodied voice reads out ‘Ode to a Nightingale’ over the credits, and it is an allowable conceit of “I LOVE KEATS”-style passion on behalf of the filmmaker, and yes, it is earnest.
Earnestness is not being afraid of feeling, creating and sharing. It is trusting enough in whatever you are making to present it to the wider world. It is tapping into the great undercurrent of hope and optimism that drives us as human beings: for success, for beauty, for love, and for the creation of new things, to continue growing after we are gone.
Living, in the face of inevitable death, is essentially an act of optimism. And it therefore makes sense to live with joy, with beauty, and to season all that with a big ole dollop of earnestness.
So come on, Beloved Readers, and let’s embrace earnestness. In the work we create, the choices we make, and the paths we take. Earnestness is not being scared to cry in public. Earnestness is frolicking through meadows that are not necessarily your own meadows but are super lush and green and so fuck it. Earnestness is even writing a comedy blog that veers into Seriousville because it is important enough to write it.
Earnestness is one more thing too. It is much more fun than being cool.