One of the biggest clichés about photography are sunsets and sunrises. That saying is often in the back of my mind when I take photos of sunsets and sunrises. I guess some clichés are true but irresistible. I just can’t help wanting to capture uniquely gorgeous dusks and dawns.
The subject of clichés came to mind this week while sorting through last year’s photos I shot of the outdoors. I smiled when I wondered if perhaps my whole life has been a cliché. Then, I wanted to check out some more clichés.
The late John Lennon came up with several popular clichés.
“Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.” This is one of his most quoted sayings. Another gem is, “Time you enjoy wasting was not wasted.” One of Lennon’s best is, “Reality leaves a lot to the imagination.” Here’s yet another, “The more I see, the less I know for sure.”
Other famous people have come up with clichés worth pondering, too.
Tom DeLonge said, “Humor has become so cliché and boring that nothing’s funny anymore unless it involves something totally disgusting that offends somebody or makes them feel really uncomfortable.”
Adena Friedman said, “If it’s a cliché to say that intellectual curiosity keeps your mind sharp, your senses alert, and your capabilities cutting-edge, that’s because it’s true.”
There are hundreds of short, sharp clichés:
“Bring them down to Earth.”
“He can’t tell his ass from a hole in the ground.”
“A rolling stone gathers no moss.”
“One rotten apple spoils the whole barrel.”
“Not a ghost of a chance.”
“Measure twice, cut once.”
“Like talking to a brick wall.”
Some of my favorite clichés that I mindlessly say are:
“It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity.”
“If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, looks like a duck, it must be a duck.”
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
“He/She is pushing up daisies.”
“Goin’ with the flow.”
“flat as a pancake.”
“cream of the crop”
“as pure as the driven snow”
“hot as Hell”
“A weed is just a flower in disguise.”
“when the cows come home”
“His ass is grass.”
“I’m a walking cliché.”
I love it when clichés are debunked. Amanda Foreman wrote, “The most famous line in gastronomic history, ‘Let them eat cake’,turns out to have been an 18th-century cliché. According to Antonia Fraser, the French accused every foreign queen of saying it, beginning in 1670 with the wife of Louis XIV, Marie Theresa.”
There’s the favorite self-help cliché, “When you do what you love, you never work a day in your life.” The truth is, that when you do what you love, you still work every day, but the work you do is more enjoyable and rewarding. Sometimes I like the hardest work, but I never lose sight of the fact that the work is still work.
“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” This one has been almost completely debunked. Actually, words can be the cause of long-term pain and resentment. Often times words are the basis of war.
One of the clichés that makes me wince is, “Everything happens for a reason.” This seems like a vain, self-centered saying because oftentimes, events simply happen. I’m not a fatalist, I don’t believe there are any predetermined purposes nor preemptive schemes for every event. Aside from planned events or schemes dreamed up by criminal minds, awful things and tragedies often just happen because of the random nature of the Universe. Accepting this fact makes us strong.
I dislike stereotyping and prejudice. One prejudicial cliché that people use too often is “Boys will be boys.” Certainly there are rude, crude, thoughtless boys and men. The same holds true for some girls and women, too. We guys are not jerks by genetics or evolution. Insensitive, societally expected machismo and negative masculinity is unnatural. We males need to be held accountable for our actions. Repeat offenses and excuse-making are unacceptable.
There are some clichés that are valuable pithy statements.
Two of the best are, “Think for yourself” and “Don’t be a sheeple.” While using good ethics and behavior as guidelines, it’s best to analyze your own perspectives and opinions to see if you’ve outgrown them. Do we go along to get along? Or do we carefully think about how our cherished beliefs, speech, and actions may affect others in good and bad ways? Good leaders not only think outside the box, but they remain compassionate and empathetic while doing so.
One of the best clichés is also excellent advice. “Be true to your word.” Some people also like “Walk your talk.” In a world filled with empty promises and phony schemes, we receive a lot of moralism and plenty of fake values. We earn deep, authentic respect by carrying through our words by fulfilling our promises. When we actually do the good things we preach about, we earn respect and feel true joy and fulfillment.
I have one more good cliché. This one needs no explanation. “Gratitude is the key to happiness.”
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes John Lennon again. “If someone thinks that love and peace is a cliché that must have been left behind in the Sixties, that’s his problem. Love and peace are eternal.”