Originality is Overrated

alka seltzerSpeaking of writing your own poems as I was here, the more I think about it the more I realize how hard it is to be really original. I mean, who among us CAN be original with all, ‘pop pop fizz fizz oh what a relief it is’ buzzing around in our heads? (And if you remember  that jingle, you’ve probably been receiving AARP the magazine for at least a decade.)

Used to be, folks memorized things not accidentally because of commercials and popular songs but on purpose, because our teachers made us memorize. Used to be, every kid with an 8th grade education was walking around with all sorts of lines in his head: The poetry of the ages. Scripture. The second and even third and fourth verses to all the patriotic songs.

Wouldn’t we be better off if we 21st century types had that rich lore at our fingertips today?

We pay too much homage to originality anyway, which I really do believe is mythical in the first place. Example: I once thought of myself as quite the witty one-of-a-kinder; but the then why did I name the journaling manual I wrote The Trail of Breadcrumbs. The reference is from Hansel and Gretel natch, with the subtitle “Journaling to Find Your Way Home”. Pretty UNoriginal that one!

Now I’m wondering if all the titles of the books I brought out were also pretty derivative I Thought He Was A Speed Bump may SOUND original but actually it isn’t at all since I stole the phrase from the little boy next-door who, when he was three years old, ran over his friend’s tummy, not once but twice, with his tricycle. It’s true I haven’t yet heard of a book besides my own called Vacationing In My Driveway but I’m sure people use that phrase in every day life. I mean, that’s why people laugh the minute I give its name: they get its message at once. 

Nope, the real originals are few and far between. I give Francis Scott Key a lot of credit with the Star-Spangled Banner whose lyrics are seriously original even if he used an existing drinking song for his tune. I mean, seriously, who else ever wrote lyrics like this? The “Oh say”  phrase alone, never mind those bums bursting in air as a million little kids so lustily sang? For really original stuff we should look to the lyrics the kids think are the real lyrics to any song or prayer. Theres bound to be some fun in mining that vein: Blessed are the monks in swimming and Round John Virgin” alone, from the Hail Mary – and that’s before you even get to that someone in the kitchen with Dinah strummin’ on the old man’s joe.” 😉