Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Valentines Day Lament

Can I please just get a little bit of love? Commercialised  disgrace to the human art of trueness, media hyped, shameless marketing ploy love?!

It's Valentines Day and I'm sitting in a bistro, working on my iPad and having a bite while I wait for schools to finish so I can fetch my niece. I am not single, but that doesn't mean that giant bunches of red roses, secret love notes and romantic treasure hunts on the beach are in my immediate future. My husband, like many men out there, doesn't believe in V-Day. He thinks it's all a ploy. A great big conspiracy to seperate him from his hard earned cash. He thinks V-Day'ers would have his true loving nature extracted from the widely expected acts of romance, and find him wanting. Basically, he's the hostage in this drama and doesn't enjoy the demands for Proof Of Love.

Don't get me wrong. I don't feel ill done by at all by his refusal to adhere to the social-herding of heart shaped chocolates and synthetic stuffed animals. I don't feel cheated out of romance, because he is a very sweet man and really does show his feelings for me all the time. He loves me very much, as much as I love him, and I have no reason to doubt it. I don't need anything more, I have him. Two peas in a pod.

So in the days leading up to this auspicious 14th day of February, we the peas sat around chuckling to ourselves when other couples faught over what they will do. We smiled knowingly at those poor fools booking fancy, overpriced resturants to eat fancy, overpriced dinners while they gaze nervously into eachothers eyes, hoping that 'this' gesture was enough. We felt sorry for those who's wallets will be ransacked by old cupid, brandishing his arrow aimed right at their hearts.

Our Valentines day dinner will be prepared together in our kitchen, and eaten outside in our own garden over a bottle of something chilled and perfect. I might throw in a candle or two and a cute little checkered picnic blanket to give it a tiny bit of flair, but at the end of the day, we do this kind of thing quite often. So Valentines Schmalentines.

But as they say, pride comes before a fall. And as I sit here, waiting in the bistro, having a bite to eat...I can't help feeling a little let down by my servers for not including a tiny heart-shaped chocolate on my plate, or a heart shaped milky-pattern in my coffee. I feel that an opportunity was missed. And damnit, like those silly little reindeer earrings at Christmas time and the baby gold lindt bunnies that make me happy at Easter, I want a tiny little bit of that V-Day love too!

Maybe next year...

Love, lust and fairy-star-dust
Cherry Blossom

Monday, 10 February 2014

The Closet Conundrum – Digital Hoarding and the lack of mental clarity in our modern lives.

“I’ve got nothing to wear!”

I have long since suspected that we have too much choice available in our modern lives. While individual needs are met, personalized tastes are catered for and not only does the shoe fit, but it comes in every colour under the sun, the dark side to all this freedom of choice is confusion causing clutter. You see, when I stand in front of my closet and say that I have nothing to wear, it couldn’t be further from the truth. Surely? I have so much in there I could clothe a small army of Amazonian-sized women. And don’t even get me started on the shoes.

The problem isn’t the lack of clothing – it’s that there are too many choices. When pressed for time and in a harried state, it’s almost impossible to settle on just one. My brain goes into information overload and shuts down.

But let’s face it – I’m not going to just throw it all out. I am a hoarder. Something I have been in a three-year rehabilitation program (otherwise know as ‘Marriage’) to try and combat. But even though I struggle to part with my possessions, never did I realize how deep the problem ran in not only me but many of my peers too, when I lost my laptop last week to a catastrophically placed glass of water.

It was one of those little old-school MacBooks in white, a gorgeous piece of vintage hardware that I fell instantly in love with the day I spied her (probably thanx to SATC) and never stopped loving. Except for the fact that she didn’t cater to my excessive storage needs: not enough megabytes for my music, movies and photo’s. I ended up clogging up my poor little computer and she had been dragging her heavy self around, taking ages to start, taking forever to shut down, taking naps in between downloading new pictures for my blog posts. Husband scolded that I had to clear out a little to make things work faster, and I knew he was right, but I never got round to it.

The most obvious answer would have been to back everything up on a hard drive or Cloud. It is what most normal people do, right? Of course! So I don’t have a problem after all. I don’t need to delete anything, and when I get a new laptop I will eventually get around to saving things in iCloud. Problem solved, and the giddy hoarder in me is restored to her former glory.

So maybe that isn’t the answer. Maybe, the answer is in keeping less, not more. Stop hoarding

Then again, is digital storing just another form of hoarding? As flash drives get bigger and Cloud accounts get larger, what’s the problem? Is there even an issue here? You have the space at the click-and-drag of your fingertips, so why even worry about it? It’s not like it’s taking up any actual space, physically.

I watched an inspiring documentary about people who live in tiny houses which, though it had nothing to do with shoes or cyber-hoarding, answered some of my questions about all of this. The people portrayed in this documentary speak about how they choose to live in a tiny home, sometimes as small as a renovated chicken coup, or a 7 square meter apartment. Their lives are simplified by these tiny spaces in that they have to really think about what to keep, what is necessary to live, and what they want around them to make them happy. 

Some comments that resonated with me were:

“I like having everything for a purpose. Not just a matter of bringing things in because I can have it – I get overwhelmed by too much.”

“The smaller space you have the more critical it is to be efficient with how you use it and especially how you furnish it.”

“I believe that the skill of this century is editing. Cutting back on space, cutting back on possessions, on media, on friends. I think you’ve got to refine because it gives you a lot of mental clarity, a lot of space, a lot more flexibility.”

That last quote was by Graham Hill (you have GOT to watch his Transformer Apartment video on YouTube), and I think he hit the nail on the head. Perhaps the beauty of minimizing and simplifying our possessions (including digital possessions) is that we create space in our minds to be free. The cage often built up in our own heads is indicative of a cluttered lifestyle that leaves no breathing room for our brain.

I have seen many people struggle with this lack of mental clarity. They have so much choice at their disposal, they are often confused and simply do not know what to do. From not knowing what to do with their lives to not knowing where to take their annual holiday to not knowing which restaurant to go to, to not being able to choose which friend to spend an afternoon with. And often, the choice they end up making comes at a cost, as they don’t enjoy themselves fully, wondering if they made the right decision, worried they might have missed out on something else. Why? Because they know they could have had it. They had the choice. And so choosing what they do leaves the rest of their choices cut off with raw, unhappy edges, flailing in the ‘what if?’

Funny, that a documentary on extremely small spaces could lead me to realize the need for less in order to have more. Perhaps the answer for many of us is to have less. To look for less, gather less, hoard less, want less. While I am not about to toss out every pair of shoes I own, perhaps four pairs of black knee-high boots is a bit excessive? As Graham suggested, I need to edit my life, and then maybe I will have something to wear next time I stand in front of my open closet.

Love, lust and fairy-star-dust
Cherry Blossom