Our theme for the month of June is “Top Ten.”
When I read the newsletter detailing the theme of this month, I groaned.
“It’s such a trite subject,” I complained to my dad.
“So what are you going to write about?” he asked.
“You won’t like it.”
He laughed. “Tell me.”
You lucked out, dad. It’s not going to be about anime. Let the other writers make their lists. This time, I won’t.
I don’t do favorites anymore, or least favorites. As a child, I’d quickly divulge my favorite color, food, book, or game. I was impassioned then and these things mattered. Age has distilled a more tired, measured, considerate me.
I will still occasionally glibly use “favorite” when I talk about things. It’s an easily accessible portal into someone’s life and tastes, moving towards understanding them. Favorites are like the skin of a person, lending a definitive structure for one’s life. And yet, a hollowness permeates the word. Like we expect it to hold more than it actually does.
“Favorite” invokes imagery of greatness, a position all of its own, unassailable to the mundane. Humans love hierarchy, or rather, we love being higher on the hierarchy. “Good” rolls off the tongue nicely, but “better” does so much better. And best? It speaks for itself. However, at this new destination we have already forgotten about what made something good in the first place. Goodness requires no higher classification. It’s something inherent, indelible—and yet we try to remove it anyway, or at least put it in a smaller box.
While I can understand enjoying particular items more than others, that does not diminish or elevate their values. The matter, is of course, preference, which in itself is subjective. Two people will not necessarily share the same favorites. Depending how intensely one cares about their favorite, situations may arise where discord and virulence replace discussion and variance. People should like different things and shouldn’t have to apologize or defend themselves for liking them.
Even this qualifier will be divisive because of differences in opinion, which is all favorites really are. Opinions, and not substantial ones either. Unfortunately, people tend to take them quite personally because of their attachment to them. Because people have given them priority in their hearts, any slight given the favorite is a slight against the person. One that must be answered and corrected. People seeking the best without keeping an eye out for what is good will lose in the quality of their lives. They may find supporters, but not friends. They may possess zeal, but not contentment.
Favoritism is a step on the path to obsession. It doesn’t have to be, but it is a surprisingly slippery step.To value something more, to ascribe more to something means that it takes up more. More thoughts, more love, more time, more us. So often our favorites involve matters and things that are less important in the whole of life. By focusing on the few, we lose out of the more that actually matters.
Furthermore, how can you know if you’ve discovered the best? People cannot experience everything. To claim something as “best” bespeaks arrogance of the highest caliber. Something greater may yet be in store. Something greater may have already passed. Something greater might be going on, right now, that we choose to overlook in our haste for labelling.
What I want to say is there’s a lot more to the world than can be put on a list. Plenty to do. Plenty to relish. You are allowed to deeply like things. Call them “favorites,” even. You are permitted to find things less appealing, so long as you acknowledge their benefit. Order and structure have their place, have great and wonderful purpose. But leave a little extra space. Just in case.
An open mind, a blank line, and a new tab provide more goodness than a favorite ever could.