Mr. McGuire: I want to say one word to you. Just one word.
Benjamin: Yes, sir.
Mr. McGuire: Are you listening?
Benjamin: Yes, I am.
Mr. McGuire: Plastics.
Benjamin: Exactly how do you mean?
Mr. McGuire: There’s a great future in plastics. Think about it. Will you think about it?
– Dialogue from The Graduate. Directed by Mike Nichols. Written by Charles Webb, Calder Willingham and Buck Henry.
A cliché like any other meme appeals at first because of its comfortable familiarity. However we soon discover that overuse has robbed it of its meaning or worse drawn in a the dark side of platitudes, cynicism and other unwanted resonances. We can’t live a cliché. We must choose our own new path.
Many people stress that they can’t live the life of a comfortable cliché. Either they don’t want one of the well trodden paths or they have met an accident on the way that changes their trajectory. They think that their path should be the same as others, the same as the expectations of their society or even safer, easier or more comfortable, like the nodding response to a cliché.
Every cliché begins as a novelty – an unique choice. It becomes tired when others fail to exercise their choice and just repeat it unthinkingly. The lack of choice and consideration opens up the path to dullness and darkness.
A cliché usually disguises a much more complicated reality. Life is much more complicated and the real paths that others take have many hidden vicissitudes. Trying to force thinks to meet a template of success is usually an exercise of much frustration and little value.
We cannot escape choice. The paths of others can be a guide and an inspiration. However we still need to choose our own way. We must embrace the novelty of our own choices & circumstances. Our desires and accidents are guidance to our own unique path, not a delay or a distraction from the cliché.
We can’t live in the light plastic emptiness of a cliché. Our daily choices push us into something far more valuable.