My apologies for the delay with this morning's edition of GUS, folks. I meant to get this posted a little earlier, but it took longer than expected to get going this morning, starting with sleeping through my alarm. The white noise of the rain apparently drowned out the usual kitty breakfast reminders (pitiful meowing and door scratching), and---once I did get up and about---I had to take extra time to dry off my dog (and everything else, after he'd had a good shake) since his post-breakfast potty break took place in absolutely soaking rain. It was a windy, soggy deluge, absolutely pouring buckets.
It was, and still is (forgive the expression) raining cats and dogs.
Okay, not the most unique turn of phrase---in fact, it's downright cliché---but it was the first thing that popped into my mind when I peeked out the window to see exactly how hard it was raining. "Ugh---it's raining cats and dogs."
Those kinds of observations are so common and reflexive that they pop into our heads almost unbidden. They're a kind of a mental and verbal shorthand; a way to describe things in almost universally understood ways. You don't have to figure out a way to get your point across quickly; in fact, when you bust out a cliché your listener has probably already figured out what you're going to say and is finishing the thought right along with you, sharing your observation.
As a writer and editor, I'm always on the lookout for cliché language, tirelessly rooting out overused phrases and pat observations. In most cases, if a phrase comes too easily or sounds too familiar, it's probably overused and may even have wandered into cliché territory. There are literally thousands of them in common usage (no, really, check it out...try the Cliché Finder if you don't believe me), and when you're writing about specific topics, it's easy to revisit tried and true phrases (see what I did there? "tried and true"! My inner editor wants me to strike that, because total cliché, but I'll leave it there because it serves my point. Anyway...).
However tempting it is to erase all such language from your essays and conversations, though, there is a reason why they exist, and a reason why we shouldn't dismiss them entirely. The phrase may be too familiar or predictable, but it got that way because people found the sentiment or idea it expressed to be, well, TRUE.
There's a cliché for every occasion. It's true in all facets of life, at home or at work, when we interact with family and friends, with colleagues or with strangers, even when we're attempting something difficult like overcoming illness, dealing with loss, or attempting behavioral change. Recovery is full of bumper-sticker wisdom and cliché phrases, from "One Day at a Time" to getting "back on the wagon."
And you know what? That's okay. They're familiar because we say and hear them a lot, and we say and hear them a lot because they contain truths we can recognize and use.
Shout-out to GUS Buddy Common Sense Mainer, who came up with today's topic. Thanks, Bud!
Who's Your Little Buddy?
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