a path to indifference


To have that sense of one’s intrinsic worth which constitutes self-respect is potentially to have everything: the ability to discriminate, to love and to remain indifferent.

Joan Didion wrote those words in the essay On Self Respect published in Vogue in 1961, perhaps you already knew that. I read the essay a few weeks ago, and am wiser for doing so.

A couple of years ago during a month long sojourn in Mexico, I got a tattoo on the inner side of my upper right arm. It reads:

I don’t care.

I chose to have it done in my own handwriting and to include the full stop, so you could say I do care. And I do, about many things, which have nothing to do with the tattoo.

What I don’t care about has everything to do with the tattoo: those things I said to someone I hardly knew; that beautiful young woman talking at length to my lover; that widening grey strip of hair, those lines near my mouth, my beautiful mouth losing its beauty.

I don’t want to care, it’s not good for me.

Not caring isn’t always that simple, but it can be. I imagine the woman I aspire to be, I then ask myself, ‘would she care?’,  she never does.

Knowing when to remain indifferent: therein lies the art of self-respect.

If you’re interested in the essay, you can find it here:


  1. I LOVE that you don’t care Tracey! It’s in line with your being cocooned in that cabin in the woods. I will read Joan Didion’s essay…glad to be reminded of her – thanks. I admire hers and your authenticity. Right down to that 3-worded tatoo! Reminds me of the 3 words in a jazz standard: ‘Devil May Care’…


  2. The concept of loving + remaining indifferent is doing my head in…

    “If we do not respect ourselves, we are on the one hand forced to despise those who have so few resources as to consort with us…” This, I get. I’d more put it as ‘there must be something seriously wrong with you if you like me so much…”

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I take it to mean we shouldn’t be so hard on ourselves, worrying about things we said or didn’t say and things we did or didn’t do. Neither should we focus too long/at all on the meaningless crap spewed by others — better to let it go, to be indifferent. This translates into loving one’s self.


  4. I find I rarely write about things I don’t care about. Instead, I find I care a little more than I’d like to if I’m lucky, and a lot more if I’m unlucky. Did I mention I don’t believe in luck? 😉

    Liked by 1 person

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