Tuesday, December 14, 2010

On Maturity and Odd Socks.

“There’s no point in being grown up if you can’t be childish sometimes.”
— Terrance Dicks, Doctor Who: Robot.
In discussing maturity, I’d like first to tell why I created Watching the Aeroplanes in the first place.

My fiancée needed a new hobby: one that wouldn’t involve putting in an effort to learn a whole new skill, one that wouldn’t require a big commitment of time or money, and one that could be her own little project outside work. I suggested we both start blogs — she jumped on the idea, and came up with some great ideas for posts in the first day, while mine sort of sat around unstarted for a few weeks until I decided to go for the political opinion/navel-contemplating style of blog I’ve adopted. The original idea was as a hobby for her, but it’s worked wonders for me as well. If I hit a brick wall in my more serious writing, as I have at the time of writing this bit, I can take a break and work on a post for a bit, and when I go back to my paper in ten minutes’ time, I’ll be a lot fresher and be able to do better work on it.

In her sidebar, The Little Quince explains that “I’m currently involved in a long and perilous psychological journey, otherwise known as ‘Getting In Touch With My Inner Crazy’. Initial strategies involve writing this blog, and wearing odd socks.” It’s funny, of course, but that was actually a genuine strategy for dealing with the stress she was under at the time — and it worked. She had become so uncomfortable that even doing something like wearing odd socks to work felt wrong: even though nobody would notice; even though, if anybody did notice, they wouldn’t care; even though there was nothing wrong with it at all. But I seized on it and was able to persuade her to wear odd socks — green and purple stripey ones, no less — to work the next day. And she felt better for it. It wasn’t exactly rebellion: the point of it was to do something that didn’t matter, precisely because it didn’t matter, and because she could.

One symptom, or form, of immaturity is attaching too little importance to really important things. But one can also go the other way: what Quincy was doing, and what so many of us do when we try to be mature, was attaching too much importance to things that really didn’t matter. This isn’t maturity; it’s paranoia. It’s not even just overdoing maturity, because maturity isn’t just caring about important things. It’s OK to care about wearing nice clothes, but that should be because you like to look or feel good, not because you feel wrong without them. Maturity is knowing what has to be important, knowing what doesn’t have to be, and deciding what we want to be and why.


  1. The important thing about socks, of course, is if (hypothetically) you had an infinite number of pairs of them, would you be able to choose one sock from each pair?

  2. I prefer wearing odd socks. Saves me having to pair them when they come off the line.

    It's wonderful to hear that blogging has had a good effect on your lives. I know it's been great for me this year. Plus - so much better than a Twitter account.

  3. Jiri: I pair my socks, so that wouldn't be possible directly from the drawer :-p I'd have to pick up two rolled up pairs, and then select one sock from each.

  4. Sabik: yes, but you'd end up with an infinite number of socks.

  5. And now Google's advertising socks on this page.