0050 | despite and because

‘Despite’ is often used when it is ‘because’ that is required. It’s so frequently misrepresented as that shade of because that seeks to sympathetically qualify a hardship or anomaly, or to sentimentally soften the bluntness with which because can appear. Despite can be intended as something that has not affected someone, but which conscious part of my life could I claim to not have been affected by? And despite can mean ‘to spite’, but I am no more charged with malice towards a thing or event from the past than I am today standing here untouched by it. One might say, ‘he grew up to be this despite having no money’, when it might be a more true representation to say that he grew up to be this because he had no money. In this instance, despite awkwardly bestows something heroic upon the ordinary. Despite doesn’t give a common form of everyday conviction and fortitude and resilience its full due. It suggests that the perfectly surmountable should not have been prevailed over; that establishing and maintaining a rhythm within the limitations of one’s life wasn’t that thing which came most naturally, which seemed the only way.

As a child, I found happiness when I kicked a plastic football against a brick wall a thousand times over. A ball which carried on the wind with precision and velocity nineteen times out of twenty was my happiness. Even those odd deviant volleys, even when it was occasionally a rubber ball ten times smaller in size: no smaller was my happiness. Contentment, then, was the simplest of things. Poverty made pleasure so simple, so easy to define and so straight-forward to procure. A happiness because of so little, not despite it.

Reader Comments

  1. Language is endlessly fascinating; the difference made by choosing this word instead of that one; the nuances carried by the choice.
    Love how you’ve woven in glimpses of you into what could have been, but is not, a purely didactic passage.

  2. “Contentment, then, was the simplest of things.”

    This is what I love about your writing and your photography. You show all the beauty and magnificance of the every day–the tools, words, food, moments, pleasures that surround every one of us all the time, but that we often overlook because they’re always there.

  3. Kavey:
    Thank you for what is always such a considered response to these fragments, and so glad you enjoyed this.

    Mary-Colleen:
    That’s a very lovely comment to receive, thank you. In that little enclave of online writers that you and I read and were part of and inspired by the beauty of the everyday seemed a cornerstone for us all. I don’t know anything else.

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