It’s what Aaron Burr says to Alexander Hamilton when they first meet in the musical Hamilton, which we are currently somewhat obsessed with in the Roper-Moock household. When Burr’s character says it, it’s meant to illustrate the contrast between him Hamilton—Burr’s M.O. is “don’t let them know what you’re against or what you’re for,” while Hamilton’s is to say exactly what he thinks: He’d “rather be divisive than indecisive.”
BUT, that line of Burr’s, taken out of context, keeps coming to mind of late. Example: The other day, when one of my children (who shall go unnamed) was complaining about something or other—there’s been a lot of complaining this summer, it feels like—I just stopped her and said, in my best Leslie Odom Jr.: “Talk less. Smile more.”
I wouldn’t dare advise my daughters to go through life this way—far from it. But sometimes, I swear to God, I wish they would keep their complaints to themselves. Stop sniping at each other. Stop whining. (It’s been a really nice summer in a lot of ways. But it’s definitely been more stressful than summers past. We did less day camp than usual, and man—it’s a lot of kid presence. A lot of parenting. Mostly for Alastair, but for me, too. Can I get a hell yeah?)
Likewise, when I go on Facebook and I see Donald Trump this or Hillary Clinton that or Bernie this or Harambe the Gorilla that (I know, that was like eons ago in Internet time)—one debate or editorial or heated discussion after another, A-dot-Burr’s words come to mind.
But no. Social media, and media in general, seems to foster this idea that we all need to have an opinion—a strong, decisive one—and voice it constantly and abrasively, if we choose, a la Hamilton. There’s always a place to comment. Always an opportunity to leave a review. Always an opportunity to be a complete a-hole if you’re inclined.
For while, Alastair and I watched the show True Blood, as a guilty pleasure. The main character, Sookie Stackhouse, has the supernatural gift of being able to hear other people’s thoughts — something which, while occasionally useful, also drives her batshit. When she’s around other people, her brain is constantly buzzing with their inner monologues. (Except when those people are vampires. So, naturally, she starts hanging out with a lot of vampires.) And seriously: When I go online these days I totally feel like Sookie. Maybe I need to start hanging out with more vampires. Or Aaron Burr. (Anyone wanna give me some Hamilton tix?)
And I know, I know—I’m ignoring my own advice here. I’m taking a stand on not taking a stand. (And I’m not smiling, dammit!)
So I’ll close on a smiling, non-opinionated note to report this: We’re in the midst of a really, really lovely vacation right now—our annual, end-of-summer sojourn at family camp on Lake Winnipesaukee with Alastair’s parents and families we’ve known for decades who reconvene here every year on this week.
It’s the same as always (which is part of what we love about) relaxing and beautiful and all the rest, except in one notable way: The girls are completely and totally independent this year. In fact, we barely see them during the day, outside of breakfast and lunch. They’re off roaming the island, playing with other kids, doing their own thing. Talking less. Smiling more. It’s quite lovely. So to quote a more apt lyric: How lucky we are to be alive right now. #Werk.