A while back I watched Whiskey Tango Foxtrot. Working title: “Tina Fey the War Correspondent”. It was nice. I laughed. I cried. I don’t know if those things are true, it was months ago. I remember enjoying it, I guess.
I remember very little of the plot – but the very rough arc is that a reporter from a local news station, bored, disillusioned with the state and progress of her life, takes an opportunity to be a war correspondent in Afghanistan. She gets there, it’s interesting, or something. I don’t know. She likes it? Epiphanies are had, I bet.
Here’s the important part, the tiny, throwaway bit that has stuck with me for the many months since forgetting the character’s name, or the finer points of the plot: While working in Afghanistan, the reporters live in pretty terrible conditions. They stay in (what appear to be) tiny, dirty apartments. They’re far from the comforts of home. The beds look terrible. These are professionals. They’re adults. They’re not destitute. But their living conditions are so unimportant as to not deserve any dialogue, any explanation or discussion, other than serving as a background to the story. Why?
I wouldn’t have acknowledged this before, certainly not out loud, but I equate the state of someone’s sleeping arrangements with their level of success. Mattress on the floor? That’s a raised eyebrow from me. Cot in a dirty apartment? Things must have gone terribly wrong.
The sleeping arrangements win WTF struck me as so interesting precisely because of what it said about what is important: These reporters were completely willing to sleep in what I’d probably refer to as unacceptable conditions because the rest of their days were so compelling. If you’re doing important work, work you believe in, and you’re giving it everything you’ve got, who cares what your sleeping arrangements are? Where you sleep is so trivial as to be completely irrelevant.
It’s been months, and this idea sticks in my head. I think about it every time we talk about putting new floors in upstairs, and we talk about that often. Every time we talk about a new kitchen appliance, or consider redoing the shower in the master bath. I thought about it when I excitedly brought home a big new TV at Christmas.
How stylish your house is, how big, comfortable, and well decorated your bed is – these things are most important to me when I’m so spectacularly bored with the rest of my life that I let myself believe they’re important, and that I care about them. My living arrangements are a distraction that I pull up to avoid facing hard truths about how much I care about the way I spend my time, the way I live my life.
I’d love to finish this post with how it’s convinced me to change my life and priorities, but I’m headed out to Lowe’s to look at flooring.