Be leery of those that use the word “too,” my friends. Yes, the word “too”. You know the type: parents, friends, co-workers, and acquaintances that you happen to be sharing a dream, an idea, or a simple conversation with. You open up and then you hear it, that word, “too”.
The word “too” is the death of thoughts and desires and the incarceration of the soul. I noticed this when I recently took up ballet, at age 42. Most of the responses I got were “You’re too old to learn ballet.” Or “I can’t do ballet, I’m too stiff,” or “I’m too fat.” I wouldn’t be taking up ballet at age 42 if I had been given an opportunity to do it as a child. But at that time, ballet lessons were too expensive, the ballet studio was too far, and I simply wanted to do too many things that I possibly wouldn’t stick with. All these too statements were true, but once you are an adult, making your own money and decisions, I say the first decision to make is eliminate the word too. That’s right; eliminate it altogether, because if you don’t, you may as well be an 8 year old child again confined to the limitations, the perceptions, the finances, and the unfulfilled dreams of every adult around you. And believe me, with their conditioned responses, they will find a way to weasel that word too into your wishes or whims that are too grandiose for their minds.
The problem with the word too is that it can have a devastating impact on the listener. Said listener may actually fall into the hopeless abyss of the word too. Using this word is the best way to destroy someone’s dream, vision or hope. I’ve walked away from many conversations completely depressed when someone used too in relation to what I was discussing.
In the movie Amadeus, which depicts the life of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, one of my favorite lines is when Mozart presents his commissioned opera to the Emperor. The Emperor is at a loss for words trying to describe his thoughts on it, so he turns to his Director of Opera for help. The director suggests that it’s “Too many notes.” What if Mozart had taken this to heart? What concertos, symphonies and operas of his would we be missing out on today? Mozart was smart enough not to take this criticism and he was a man of many notes- many notes that define the era of classical music, that have transformed careers, and that have been the background music to most of our lives. Too many notes! Do you see how ridiculous this sounds? But because we are not all geniuses like Mozart, does this give us the justification to use the limiting word too? Most of us may never be a Mozart in any chosen field, but that does not mean we cannot try something new and extract a little happiness out of whatever level of accomplishment is achieved.
Sometimes I’m the biggest offender of the word too. I find myself using it in excess. I’m too tired after night shift; this flute sonata piece is too difficult; the one man show I’m writing is too crazy of an idea and overwhelming. How would my perception change on all these examples if I simply eliminated the word too? I challenged myself and tried it: I’m tired after night shift. This flute sonata piece is difficult; the one man monologue I’m writing is a crazy idea and overwhelming. If I simply state my thoughts as facts without using the adverb too, somehow my whole attitude changes toward it. My mind-set is that it’s okay that I feel that way, but it’s now manageable and even conquerable. I’m not saying it’s not going to be hard, because it will be, but it gives me permission to do the work necessary to accomplish the task. Unlike the word too which gives me an excuse not to attempt it.
This bad word seeped into my mind while planning my once a year international vacation. Iceland, it’s too far, too costly, too cold. In order to view the Northern Lights, it will be far, costly, and cold. Why state the obvious? And, it will be worth every sacrifice for this phenomenal experience. So unless I’m trying to talk myself out of a great vacation, the word too is not necessary.
I even see too negatively on something that should be viewed positively. “This gift is too generous.” What about saying, “This gift is generous, thank you”? Another positively negative is: She’s trying too hard to be my friend. Listen to how it sounds if I restate this as: She’s trying hard to be my friend. I now have respect and empathy for the person trying to be my friend. I’ve eliminated the too, along with my cynicism, and I have possibly gained a new friend that is willing to make the effort to be a friend. We’ve become so suspicious and unappreciative of goodness that we put that three letter word in, in order to keep a distance. No wonder the human race is hurting; we are denying ourselves things we want and that are offered.
My ballet example is a small case and point of what I was imposing on myself. However, on Mondays and Fridays, you’ll find my 42 year old, 15 pound overweight, stiff hip flexors of a body learning ballet. I will never perform for the Joffrey Ballet, but it doesn’t matter because I love that I’m even doing pliés and glissades. I could have listened to those too obstacles and instead spent Monday and Friday nights doing other things I enjoy- indulging in frill or philosophical reading, scrolling through the tweets of Apocalyptic Shit Disturber John Cusack, or catching up on much needed rest before night shift. But, I refuse; instead, I save those actions for when I transition between the other too outrageous events I’m doing, like, practicing Bach Sonatas or writing that one man theatrical show. In this way, I get the best of all worlds. I pay no heed to the too or the too-sayers.
If you find “too” difficult to eliminate, I will give you one exception to the rule. The absolute and only time you can say too is when you see someone else doing something you’ve always wanted to do. Stop! Don’t make a too excuse and simply say: I can do that, too.
Eliminating the word too takes practice. The brain is a muscle and you’ve been conditioned to use this word flippantly without realizing the caging effect it has on your actions, mind, and soul. Think of too as the final nail in your coffin. Yet, you’re still alive.
I don’t want my epitaph to read: She didn’t do too many things. Nor do I wish it to read: She did too many things. I want it to read: She did many things. And I want the attendees to gossip and whisper, “Oh, and I heard she did that, too.”