NPR logo Wading Into the Shallows

Wading Into the Shallows

Ok, by now it's no secret... on this here blog, Scott's the tech/policy guy, Barrie's the hyper-intellectual, and I'm, well... shallow. I mean, yes: I'm well-versed on the news and I did well in school and all of that (wouldn't want you to think NPR would hire a dummy... but still, I'm amazed they even let me in the door), but when it comes time for extra-curriculars, or even these "thoughtful" posts on the blog, I'm more apt to choose Perrotta or Pink than Proust, and pop over opera. And while I'll defend the varied merits of my preferences to the death, they're not the sort of choices that make people think, "Hmmm... this girl should be in Mensa!" So when I came across Valerie Frankel's column, "The Shallow Life," in the new issue of Self magazine (wait! I mean the Economist! Shoot, I'm so busted... again), I was more than a little interested in her defense of choices like mine. She, too, isn't known for depth or intellectualism, but it turns out she's been sorely tested (she lost her first husband to cancer), and believes shallow has its strengths. I can't find a link to the column*, but she explains her preference to keep things light, which leads to people not taking her seriously no matter what the topic — her sister Alison is "deep," and as such, even her opinions on topics like haircuts are more weighty. She talks to a philosophy professor at Harvard and a psychotherapist in New Jersey to try to ease her feelings that she may be superficial, and the therapist, Lynn Schlesinger, offers this advice:

Depth is often about spending days delving into nuance... Instead of measuring your depth, measure your breadth. Does your life stretch far and wide in terms of interests, people, and ideas? Depth is also being open to new concepts and experiences and possessing the intellectual curiosity and emotional fortitude to explore them.

Article continues after sponsorship

Interesting. Valerie eventually concludes that following "our natural inclinations" is the purest thing, that to do otherwise "would be phony, the hallmark of shallowness." I know quite a few of you are displeased when we take a trip toward the shallows on our air, when pressing issues like Iraq weigh heavily... I ask you: isn't there some merit to the breadth?

*This just in... here's a link to the column!