As a sheltered suburban teen, I learned a lot of life lessons from watching 90s sitcoms. Looking back it’s comical to see the correlation to certain coming of age experiences with some iconic episodes. Let’s take the idea of lists for example. In an episode of Friends, Rachel accidentally happens across a pro/con list her boyfriend Ross made about her. One con from the infamous list that caused quite the pop culture stir was, “large ankles.” I remember thinking, it’s Jennifer Aniston for crying out loud – large ankles! Really? After reading the list, Rachel dramatically exists with flip of her perfect hair.
This cautionary tale of list making even made an appearance in my young women’s class back in the day. Yep, you read that right. My leader somehow linked this episode to the lesson, and the unfortunate activity that followed was (you probably already guessed it) making a list of qualities we want in a future husband. Every girl around me wrote down physical characteristics with a “kind heart” thrown in for good measure. Check, check, and check.
I couldn’t help but think of this experience when reading a relatable archived journal piece, “The Long and the Short (and the Straight and the Curly) of It” by Kylie Nielson Turley. With hilarity, Kylie recounts how her hair not only influenced her self-perception but also helped her realize that other people’s expectations and checklists on looks can be tiring and ridiculous. The poem, “Age Abides” by Susan Jeffers is a lovely compliment to our prose selection as both have the subtext of aging. “Three Days” illustrates how itemizing events can hold depth, contrasting some of the shortcomings of lists.
In a contrasting tone, but with threads of similar sentiment, our featured writer Fiona Givens discusses how focusing on the trivial reduces our spiritual humanity. Her interview reveals a grounded and expansive view of worship and worth through deep questions of faith and comparative religion – which help her find “goodness, beauty, and wisdom” in life beyond a checklist.
In reading this month’s journal pieces, I’m reminded that comparisons or absolutes can paint an illusion of certainty, which may lack the potential and growth that can develop in some of life’s immeasurable unknowns. Enjoy!
Segullah Prose Editor
Table of Contents
Age Abides, by Susan Jeffers
Three Days, by Susan Jeffers
The Long and the Short (and the Straight and the Curly) of It, by Kylie Turley