Everything is a list on the internet. Have you noticed this? Seriously, at some point a few years ago, err’body decided that prose wasn’t good enough anymore. These days, all the knowledge in the world must come in bulleted, pithy sentences. If not, no one will read it . . .  is anyone still reading this? (Hi, Mom!)

My all-time favorite list comes from wikiHow in twenty-four points on “How to Deal with an Existential Crisis.” Yes, in twenty-four simple and direct points, you can learn how to manage your despair. Some of those points are really good: give advice to yourself; clean; drink a glass of water; and turn on a “seventy-five watt or greater light bulb”. I have done all these with some success, but methinks if you can solve your existential crisis in twenty-four steps, it probably ain’t one.

Well, as you well know, we here at aredstatemystic are always on the cutting edge of technology*. We used Twitter back when tweets were the sound of carrier pigeons bravely flying off to the Battle of Somme. I can still remember that first pigeon relaying this first tweet to Col. Matthew Crawley: “ldy mary thinxs ur hawt. lulz”. Oh yes, we’re definitely not inept Luddites here. Oh no, not us — as the kidz say, “hashtag: awesome”!

So, jumping on the Lisztomania list-o-mania (see what I did there?), here’s my top five words and phrases that we should retire. Or, at the very least, all agree not to use for a year:

5. “Synergy”:

Part of my time at my liberal arts indoctrination mill included taking one class on leadership in business. Damn them for making me take something actually useful! It was taught by a local big-wig at one of this region’s large corporations; in fact, he wrote a whole book on it. I was duly impressed, of course.

Anyway, in the class, he kept using the word “synergy”. I had no clue what it meant. But, dear Lord Sweet Baby Jesus, he loved using it. Sometimes, he’d use it with completely different connotations, like the annoyed grunts of the proverbial father, where you knew which grunt meant “take out the trash” by the pitch and intonation.

So, one day, using my (useless) philosophical training, I asked him to define it (a la Socrates, that asshole). He answered my question using more business-speak. I still have no clue what “synergy” means, but I know I can use it and sound like I have an MBA. Buy. Sell. Synergy! Razzle-Dazzle!

4. “Religion”:

Here’s another case of people using a word to mean whatever the hell they want it to mean. I mean, come on people, if you don’t like Catholicism or Denominations or Whatever-The-Hell-Pissed-You-Off-About-Christianity, then be clear about it and make your case. Lazily lumping everything you don’t like about the Church as “religion” makes you look like an asshole. And, yes, your religion-less Christianity is still a religion. But, I’ve already written more about that than you care to read, I’m quite sure.

3. “All Shall Be Well”:

I’m a great fan of the writings of Julian of Norwich. I’ve read her Showings several times. I’m also a great fan of TS Eliot who used this famous quote in “Little Gidding”. What I’m not a fan of is people who use “All shall be well” as some kind of New-Agey feel-good claptrap. You know who you are!

Julian’s writing presents a horrifically bloody account of the crucified Christ. Literally, there are pages describing how the blood flowed from his brow. Yet, in spite of all of this, Jesus says that “All shall be well”, because God can use suffering (and even sin!) for a greater purpose. “All shall be well” doesn’t mean that you’re not going to suffer; it means that you’re going to suffer terribly, but that God will use it, too.

When most people say, “All shall be well” they should include a patronizing ruffling of your hair and follow it with, “Now, run outside and play.” I always get a flash of nausea anytime anybody tries to force the Mystics into being touchy-feelies who would be fans of Oprah if they were blessed with the chance.

2. “Journey”, “You’re on a journey” or “It is all about the journey”:

Doesn’t this phrase just cry out for one of those inspirational-images-with-quotes that are all over whatever the heck Pintrest is? You know what I’m talking about! They say insipid things like “We don’t remember days / We remember moments” over a picture of a lonely, black-and-white dock reaching out into the vast emptiness of an ocean. You know, things you look at before going back to making your vision board.

I drive to my ancestral Hoosier homelands a few times a year. If you’ve never done it, eight hours in a car by yourself is maddening. By about the second hour, all that keeps me going is my deepening sense of road-rage, my burgeoning anger at conservative talk radio hosts, and a bag of Munchos.

I know I’ll probably hit traffic in Louisville (usually around hour six) and I know it will slow me down. Yet, if someone were to say to me at the I-64W/I-65N cluster-you-know-what, “Hey! It’s all about the journey!” I’d punch them right in the face as I plunge my car into the Ohio river, laughing manically the whole way down.

Life is not about the journey. The journey is what you get through to get to your destination. You begrudge the journey, but accept it as a part of life. I will live through it, but I don’t have to like it. I don’t have to like the traffic.

Stop telling me life is all about the traffic!

1. “Dude,” “buddy”, “homie” and “bro/brah/broski/broseph”:

This can be quite charming if you’re part of the jeu de frát. Other than that, no one should use these words ever in my presence — especially not referring to me. Or else. Don’t think I won’t.

Hashtag: awesome, indeed!


*: And, by, “we”, I mean, “me”, of course.