When do you think of something as being urgent?
Ms. Merriam defines urgent as: Calling for immediate attention: pressing.
Dr. Oxford defines it as: Requiring immediate action or attention.
On one level, both point to the domineering inner-voice, the part of us that demands: “You’d better do something about ________! You must. I must. We must. Someone, certainly, must. ‘Cause if not…well, it’s too horrible to imagine! Just do it!” This is a slightly theatricalized version of what goes on in most people’s heads day after day. Or maybe it’s the slightly understated version, I’m not sure.
As you’ll come to see, among others things, VNU is dedicated to bringing beauty, joy, and inner-flexibility to those who want it. To my ears, that doesn’t sound ridiculous. But I’d have to be some special kind of masochist if I thought that everyone, or anyone really, should take poetry or my work seriously.
So I don’t attach a sense of urgency to my projects.
What!? That’s idiotic! Surely you need some sense of urgency to get things done in this world, to fulfill your potential. Your attitude is just self-defeating.
You’re right and you’re wrong. I realize we’ve trapped ourselves here. Let me introduce another definition of urgent that might help: (of a person or their manner) earnest and persistent in response to a pressing situation.
Ah! That’s better. Earnest and persistent are adjectives I can get behind. There’s less a sense of emergency in this definition, and more a sense of…life. (Here the pressing situation is…you’re alive. Yes, terribly inconvenient, I know, but true. You’re reading this. Yes, you.)
Unfortunately, this isn’t the sense of urgency experienced by most. Here’s a wonderful line from Ben Mazer that points to the more fortunate sense of the word:
All is urgent, just because it lives, and in the mirror, life to life life gives.
Often, for instance when I go about town, I feel this sense of urgency, an earnest and persistent quality of everything happening at once, including myself. There's a flowing quality that I participate in. But when I’m running late for such and such, or just rushing around, there's little awareness of what's actually going on. All I really experience is that sense of “I gotta ________!”
So what are you saying? Urgency can be good or bad? Geez, com’on guy, I already knew that.
Forget the definitions, forget the categories! I could find a hundred examples to refute any given statement I’ve just made. I’m trying to give a flavor of something that we can’t easily categorize.
The quality of your days are urgent in that you still have them, they constantly change, and someday they will end. Your social standing is urgent in that you imagine it’s incredibly important and needs maintaining, and so you maintain your social standing as if "it" actually existed, and is in fact incredibly important.
These are just examples. There are always more examples and counter-examples. Still, you can see that the above are both urgent, in their way. Both are experienced quite literally, each day, in your body.
I’m only suggesting that, maybe, one has more importance. For you, that is.
Nathan Woods, editor/overlord