All That We Love

impractical“Hearts will never be practical until they can be made unbreakable.” 
~The Wizard of Oz

I never cease to be amazed by what moves me. On Sunday night, it was a place on the couch, dogs sprawled haphazardly at my feet like clothes I’d stripped off in a frenzy and remote in hand, bouncing back and forth between “The Wizard of Oz” and “Slumdog Millionaire.”

When’s the last time YOU rewound “The Wizard of Oz?”

I always found it a bit strange that once the man behind the curtain is revealed, he turns into a wisdom-spewing sage. Yet on this gazillionth viewing in my 38th year, I found myself rewinding to hear again the quote I posted above.

“Hearts will never be practical until they can be made unbreakable.”

I smiled.

I’ve never been a practical woman. Believing in true love, fairy tales, the impossible – things that don’t really satisfy a pragmatist’s idea of solid foundations. I love shoes that make my feet hurt, dresses you can’t sit down in and breakfast burritos so big they require a knife and fork.

It occurs to me that everything I love is impractical.

The Math of Impracticality

I’ll preface this by saying that perhaps what will follow isn’t real math, but it’s my blog and I’ll call it witchcraft, alchemy or whatever the hell I want. I can only speak from my experience, but the things I tend to love are the ones that offer challenges, surprises and unbelievable joy and pain (and often simultaneously). If we break it down into and equation of Erika Math, it might look like this:

things we set out to do + shit we didn’t expect = life’s memorable moments

And given that memories aren’t always good, they are one thing for certain: remarkable. There’s nothing practical involved when it comes to being surprised or coping with unbearable pain. Then again sheer bliss is also completely impractical as well. Perhaps it’s time, along with a renewed perspective on unpopular, we begin to embrace impractical as well.

Practicality Has Its Place

Gadgets are practical. I’d give my left tit for a Roomba, which is uber-geeky AND practical. Basic black pants, shoes and skirts? Practical. Clothes hampers? Practical. Dictionary.com offers this: “inclined toward or fitted for actual work or useful activities.” That describes the bike rack on my car, not really anything in my life that I love.

Everything we value in life – all that we love – be it our business, our families, our children, boyfriend/girlfriend, relationships, hearts, souls and minds…can be broken. They’re fragile. They require attention, nurturing, love, kindness and humility to foster. While practical things can break, they’re replaceable. There’s no replacing the impractical, however.

Emotions? Impractical. Apologies? Practical.

Falling in love? Dear christ, certainly impractical. Breaking up? A matter of practicality for our hearts most times.

Taking the corporate job for the stability, predictability and camaraderie? Practical and comforting (and great parking). Launching a business to pursue what we love? Highly impractical, considering the availability of a paycheck with taxes taken out and benefits a few blocks down.

Practicality Isn’t Bad

It’s the water of our lives, the foundation on our house, the chassis of our car. But it’s the nature of impracticality – the shifting sand that moves beneath our feet – that makes the people who drink the water, architects who design feats of structural wonder on top of those foundations and that are the gas in our cars that get us from where we are to where we want to be. It’s never practical to dream of what might be – as for me, it’s what gets me through the bullshit some days. And how I love to dream. They’re my what could have beens and what ifs, and more often, my what could bes and what I wants. Being a highly impractical woman is what made me who I am today. While capable of glorious fuckups and subject to broken hearts and failures beyond compare, it’s the upside of impracticality that rules above all every day when I crawl out of bed.

I’ll continue to be impractical and put my hand on the stove to learn its hot. The shittiest days of my life are those where I let practicality rule, because I lose feeling. Go numb. Sometimes you have to walk around barefoot in the grass and step in the dog crap to realize…shoes are practical.

The laughter that comes from the person watching you wash the shit off your feet? Highly impractical. And memorable, too.

45 comments
Help with essay
Help with essay

Glad you didn't quote anything about the flying monkeys. I can only imagine what sort of fecal flinging induced mayhem of metaphors you would write about. I love your posts!

Simona Goldin
Simona Goldin

Wow, this is really REALLY amazing. I left the practical world of 9-5 job slavery awhile ago, and even though that was the scariest shit (at least I thought so at the time) I've done in my life, HA! I've never looked back. Not even once. Yeah, there are days where I step into dog shit while I walk around in my lawn of "impracticality", but I guess thats what balls are for, you suck it up and move on. All the ducks cannot be aligned perfectly - life is all about that! WEEEE!!! This entry has really reminded me how LUCKY I am. Thanks chica :)

Josh Hillis
Josh Hillis

Further proof: While the article I just read from StomperNet is practical, this article I LOVE.

Jodi Henderson
Jodi Henderson

Oh boy. Another goodie Erika! This is particularly timely for me because I'm considering quitting my job without having another one lined up, with my own business not ready for prime time just yet and only about a couple of months of funding to support me. I'd say that qualifies as impractical, but I'm trying to find some happiness here! I'm counting on "the upside of impracticality" and have to believe that everything will work out. Wish me luck!

Leon Noone
Leon Noone

G'Day Erika Back in the early 1970s I attended a training conference here in Sydney. . A keynote speaker from a midwestern college told us that "the best theory is practical." I've never been quite sure what he meant. But I saved it until the opportunity arose to use it. Thanks for providing that opportunity. And what could be more impractical than a chocolate egg? What could be more delicious? Enjoy Easter Best Wishes Leon

Brandon Yanofsky
Brandon Yanofsky

I love this article Erika. I know my love is completely impractical. The girls I truly love I'm never able to tell you exactly why it is. It's just a feeling. Same with my decision to start my own business. It doesn't make logical sense. I prefer security, stable paycheck. But I decided to start my own business. And I can't give you logical reasons. It just sort of happened.

The Redhead
The Redhead

And how timely this is, Liz. I'm going to Gary V's TYE book signing here in Denver tonight. I can't wait to meet the man behind the curtain ;) Appreciate you stopping by - and I do so wish Willis from Different Strokes swore. Because THAT is what he'd be talkin' about!

Liz DiAlto
Liz DiAlto

This post makes my soul scream "That's what I'm f*cking talking about!" Just yesterday I underlined this line in Gary Vanyerchuck's Thank You Economy, "Most people's DNA simply doesnt allow them an entrepreneurs anticipation skills. They don't see potential in the unknown, they see a threat to their comfort zone, so their knee-jerk reaction is to draw a deep line in the sand between themselves and anything new or unproven..." might as well add impractical on the end there. I've been surfing the waves of impracticality in my personal and professional life lately. Sometimes when I feel like I'm approaching my limit for uncertainty I need a boost-and this post was perfect. You are a star, I love your blog. Thanks!

Charity Fowler
Charity Fowler

I love that you quoted The Wizard of Oz, my favorite movie of all time, and with one of my favorite quotes, too. The post that followed literally gave me chills once or twice. I always love your writing and your no-nonsense approach to things and telling it how it is, but as I'm about to leave a well paying job with decent benefits to launch my own business while also going back to school for a PhD in a program only created 3 years ago that no one else has anything like in the country (so God knows how practical it could be) and with only one year of assured funding but the idea of which makes my heart sing... Lets just say, I get it. And it was really inspiring to read about someone else celebrating that impracticality and how it leads to the most alive moments. So, thank you. :-)

The Redhead
The Redhead

Borrow away and glad you felt it was status-worthy!

Brad Holland
Brad Holland

Glad you didn't quote anything about the flying monkeys. I can only imagine what sort of fecal flinging induced mayhem of metaphors you would write about. Good read. Love your perception on this wild cinder block we rotate on. Thanks!

Cherry
Cherry

Dear Ms. Redhead: I know you've taught me in many of your posts that your (my) work has value and should not be given away for free. However, I thought I'd still make the following request for free consultation: why didn't my avatar show up on my comment when it always has in the past? XXOO, Cherry

Cherry
Cherry

I can remember laughing, no guffawing, many times in my life when the thing I set out to do + shit I didn’t expect = a memorable moment. Especially with my sons.

Ryan Miller
Ryan Miller

Erika, Love your equation for life's memorable moments. One of your best pieces, I might add. I think maybe 'impractical' is the adjective (it is an adjective, right?) that's been missing but fits really well for a lot of us that try to define the things that move us or are important. I've been trying to make a conscious effort to look at and document small things each day that make up or remind me of memorable moments. And some of these things can be very practical things that are used in a very impractical context...like a cup of espresso that is used so you can stay up til 3 a.m. having amazing conversation. Anyway, loved the post and you got me thinking again. Well done.

Gesmithmd2
Gesmithmd2

Erika, A bit toned down for you, yes? Lovely and simple, heartfelt and wonderful. Thank you. Greg

SL Clark
SL Clark

Please do not sell out for the Roomba; practical not sexy! In my opinion & recent life, practicality has become vastly overrated, until it shows up in the checking account somehow. Erika Math is awesomeness defined; another great post!

Killian
Killian

You might have to wash your feet, but the person snickering at you only has hot, sweaty, stinky feet. Your have has sweet, fresh air, cool water, soft, squishy shit, sudsy soap, and ticklish grass. If we are our experiences, I would much rather have had the multiple sensory input moments than the stodgy, scared-of-shit ones.

jt
jt

Thanks Erica, borrowed your words for my status today! (credit given of course!)

Kellie J. Walker
Kellie J. Walker

Practical helped me survive. Impractical helps me live. Good on ya', Red!

Mike Gier
Mike Gier

I have never heard being practical/impractica be put into such a great analogy of life, I got a great chuckle out of your comments, Thanks. I like your style, don't ever change..

TravelnLass
TravelnLass

Lovely piece, Erika - and I especially like your math: "things we set out to do + shit we didn’t expect = life’s memorable moments " But (as a likewise avowed impractical lass who tossed away 2 degrees in favor of starting her own adventure travel company to a country nobody had even heard of), my own math adds up to something like this: Things we don't set out to do + being open to serendipity/possibility = amazingly kewl life-turns that you'd never dream were even possible.

Cab
Cab

"things we set out to do + shit we didn’t expect = life’s memorable moments” Damn. I did practical for about 13 years. Like you say, it has it’s place but not at the expense of living. And for the most part, I was dead during that time. Now, I’m embracing impractical with fervor. After reading this you have been added to my terribly sexy list.

Giulietta
Giulietta

Hi Erika, Followed you over from Twitter. Wizard of Oz remains one of my all time fav movies. So many juicy quotes/life lessons in there. So with you on being impractical. Who decided that practical was the way for humans to go? Life itself is impractical. I prefer to follow my gut and heart to wherever it takes me. Makes for an exciting adventure instead of a soul-stifling slog. I went barefoot for most of my college years. Never regretted it, even when stepping on strange objects that hurt. Nothing like being barefoot and fanciful. More folks need to "feel" their way through life. Without it, there's no magic. Super post! Thanks, G.

The Redhead
The Redhead

You're most certainly welcome, Simona. Glad to have you 'round these parts!

The Redhead
The Redhead

Josh, that's one of the best comments I've ever received. Thank you :)

The Redhead
The Redhead

Most definitely. To hell with the "upside of anger." The upside of impracticality is much better, methinks ;) Luck? You don't need luck. You've got balls.

The Redhead
The Redhead

Practical schmatical. Gimme some ruby slippers any day and I'll go toe to toe with any commencement speaker :) Always a pleasure, Leon.

The Redhead
The Redhead

And you're most certainly welcome, Charity. Thanks for sharing your impracticalities - may yours love you as much as mine do me :)

The Redhead
The Redhead

Glad you enjoyed, Brad - appreciate you stopping by! And yeah, the consensus on the monkeys? FREAKY!

The Redhead
The Redhead

You're here now :) Sometimes Disqus can be slow to load profiles.

The Redhead
The Redhead

See? It's good math :). Great to see you, Cherry...

The Redhead
The Redhead

That's all I can ever ask for - to get people thinking. Glad to see you 'round these parts again and it was pure delight to meet you at SXSW!

The Redhead
The Redhead

You're welcome. I did end the post with something about dog shit, though ;)

The Redhead
The Redhead

I'd only give the left tit for the Roomba, not sell-out completely. Glad you like my version of math, too :)

Killian
Killian

Ugh. And I apologize for the typos...fingertips are numb today and I didn't take the time to stop and edit.

The Redhead
The Redhead

Thanks, lady - always great to see you here!

Jodi Henderson
Jodi Henderson

Ooooh. I like this math. I'm kind of on this path (including the part about two degrees), but I haven't gotten to the result yet. I'm definitely hoping for "amazingly kewl". :)

The Redhead
The Redhead

Now that's some math I can relate to!

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