in threes

There’s a thing I started writing a couple years ago and never finished. A thing about threes. In it I started and never finished saying that important things come in threes. Just look online. Profundity comes in threes. Steps to success/achievement /perfection come in threes. Good things come in threes. Meaningful things, delicious things, great things—if it matters, it comes in threes, I started and never finished saying, probably because it wasn’t that important or profound or delicious.

But the hard straight fact of the matter is there’s a reason why the holy trinity is holy, and it’s that people—like us, mostly—like symmetry, and three is symmetrical as fuck. I have it on dubious authority that the ancient Greeks invented triangles because they liked symmetry, and, therefore, threes. Think about it. Primary colors, little pigs, stooges, tricycles, dimensions, fates, graces, gorgons, French hens, bears, chimeras, wise men, strikes, musketeers, ménages, flavors in Neapolitan ice cream — all threes. In basketball, threes are worth more points than twos or ones. They’re worth three.

And let us not overlook the three-day weekend, the apotheosis of requiescent repose since antiquity. It has one more day than the regular weekend, which means it’s symmetrical and complete, which means, by extension, that it’s just the right amount of time away from work or school or people or the fields or the fora to transform and metamorph from a two-dimensional drone-habituant player of roles to a symmetrical, complete fraud—I mean being—because it counts for more, like a three-pointer. Two is a tease, one is a slap in the face, unless it’s bracketed by two others, one on each side, like escorts or arm candy, turning it magically, then, into three.

And then there’s this other thing I recently learned and it is profound and pivotal and orphic so brace yourself because it is this: writing is not just a thing we do, not just or only or merely a simple, plain, and singular act but in fact three (!!!) distinct and progressive steps. Three steps! Creating a whole! Like a triangle! Or a list, preferably in boldface 24-point font callout text so you know it’s ok to discard the rest because who has the attention span and selflessness to endure a few hundred words! No one! Anyway, here they are, blown up and aggrandized just like the writer entrepreneur husband dad life coach guru from whom I learned them would wish, and with lots of white space like I imagine is in his mind:

  1. have an idea

  2. write a draft

  3. edit the draft[1]

And that, there, is my advice to you, kid, birthday advice, let’s say: ignore shit like this and do three of everything, because three is the best and the third time’s a charm and bla bla bla, even though there’s only two of us, born as we were from our respective mothers with our one shared father in the middle and you know what that makes, right? If not, ok, I wasn’t paying attention either.

Whatever you do, go have your ideas, write your drafts, edit the hell out of them, and do you know why? To see what happens. Follow steps if they make sense and if you find a way to make them yours, not the dicta of some stooge or wise man or musketeer, lightly ridicule the imbecilic, have as many kinds of ice cream as you desire, and beware chimeras and gorgons, but remember what Chekhov said, even though he apparently couldn’t count (though seven is a pretty good number too) and they didn’t have bullet points in Russia till about 1992: 

I regard all trademarks and labels as badges of prejudice. My holy of holies is the human body, good health, intelligence, talent, inspiration, love and complete freedom—freedom from violence and lies, no matter what form these two last may take.[2]

And make sure to get your three-day weekends, in all their holiness and fateful flavors, wherever and as often as you can.


[1] I really and truly read this somewhere, somewhere on Medium, I’m sure you can find it but don’t bother.

[2] From Anton Chekhov: A Life in Letters. I’m sure you can find it, do bother.

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