The importance of being...

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What is it that is important, asks Liz Breslin. 

Liz Breslin
Liz Breslin
You're getting in a stew, trying to work out whether you should be folding the washing, lobbying your local MP about the abortion bill, following events at Ihumatoa, working nine to five while the in-tray's not getting lighter, protesting the jet plane plans for Wanaka, having quality family time and/or remembering to stretch and eat veges and get fresh air.

There's so much that matters so much, you decide to start a list.

It's good to talk so you ask a neighbour or three - what is it that's important? Two of them tell you "it is people, it is people, it is people". One of them gives you a hug. You remember there are reasons to love where you live, and truths that have long been known.

Proverbs. Proverbs are important - shared truths and stories that aren't dictatorial. Listening to young people - that's important, too. So you ask one or three of them. What is it that is important? "Girls, girls, girls, girls, girls, GIRLS!" says the teenager. You take this as an affirmation of firm feminist values.

The tweenagers, they shrug and say "I dunno", before going on to have an earnest conversation about whether you would even be able to think rugby was important if it had never existed because you couldn't miss it if you didn't even know it was a thing, you'd just do something else. Like reading. But you couldn't read about rugby because it didn't exist.

And nobody would be sad because they wouldn't know. You only half-listen to half of this brilliant exchange because you decide to multitask - badly, as it turns out - you spell the words "Jacqui", "medical", "procedure" and "conscience" wrong in your haste, you send the email unchecked and ragged and you'll never get that conversation back.

You're interested in origins and important is originally a word to do with carrying in and bringing. Like import, along with the weight of duty. Example sentences: 1) Fairness and honesty are values which most New Zealanders see as important. 2) In his editorial, he made several important points. 3) Coffee and tea are an important part of Kiwi socialising.

"Water, for drinking and swimming," says Jimmy. He has the intelligence of a baby dolphin (which is a compliment, which will make better sense if you've been watching Atlanta, which is important). "Really? You're asking that?" says a work colleague. "At this time of the morning?"

Lucy, who saves the world, says "nature, having someone to love and be loved, a place where you can feel at home, good health, clean water, enough to eat, and, well, hope ...". She sends this with an emoji flower. She knows how to work the mechanisms of hope and activism pragmatically, does Lucy, and you feel like this is what you're missing.

Other responses over the course of a day - "dental hygiene", "food", "music", "dogs", "people turning up on time", "futsal", "good meals", "the environment", "relationships", "hauora", "friends", "don't ever let the collective brainwash you into making you think you are one of them. YOU ARE AN INDIVIDUAL #important", "community", "what?", "love, love, love". Nobody says abortion law reform or Ihumatao or alleviating the poverty cycle and you wonder whether this is because they're focusing on the positive or whether they're weirded out by your blunt line of questioning or whether it's a symptom of where you live.

You find yourself playing indoor spotlight with the tweenagers all evening. You hide under a sofa, in the wash basket and behind a curtain, looking out at the stars. You forget all about what is important and all the things on your list. You don't even check your phone until the morning, when you read this reply.

"It is important to know what is important," says your mum. "To be, not to have."

And she signs off with a whole row of kisses - xxxxxxxxxxxxx


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