Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Frills, Thrills, the Essence of Life

You can make this apron for yourself.  See below
I want to do some deeper thinking about the subject of yesterday's post---leading the no-frills life---which has inspired some people to say, Hey, please, I need some frills.

In my thinking - and as far as I know, I have invented philosophizing on this subject - "frills" are those things or experiences that are superfluous, additions to our lives above our basic needs.  In my thinking, basic needs stand above mere survival needs.  To know what those are, consider the homeless Vet holding a sign:  Will work for food.  To stay alive we need food, water, shelter.  To stay alive longer we need other people - we are a social animal.  In a very real way, we must have the protection of society so we can relax and sleep, be helped when we are not able to help ourselves.  Society lends a stability to our lives.  Our non-magical Western science has demonstrated repeatedly that people with friends and social-spiritual groups (such as churches) live longer.

What I see people wanting is a break, small or large. There is so much marketing of short breaks these days, as the number of single mothers increases, as so many women both work and run a home.  Can't afford to travel, but you can afford a day at the spa.  A pedicure.  A massage.  Wine and whine.  New shoes, hey, more new clothes.  Breaks, a little sense of being nourished.  Groupon is one of the most successful new businesses now, and these are the things it offers day after day, pounding in that incentive to believe they will heal you somehow. Or refresh you so you can slog on.

Then there are the way bigger, more expensive toys and breaks people feel will make them happy.  You know what I mean - a new house, redecorating the one you have, a boat, a remodeled kitchen, a Mediterranean cruise. And wait, wait, a new person, undying romantic love.  I could go on forever. [I almost left out A Great New Car that will make a real man of you, or alternatively, be sleek and pretty and you'll feel carefree and it will provide some moments of pleasure every day.  Right? ] These are the things Americans bought on credit these last years and can't pay for now.  Are they any happier for having them?  Not that I can see.  Because the dream vacation ends, and all you have left now is memory and a whole lot of pictures of you obscuring the view of some monument.

I'm not against these things (though I can't stand even the idea of someone working on my toenails, so I hope I never get too old to clip them myself.)  Enjoy yourself.  But - they are only breaks.  They do not change your life.  And if you are desperate for this kind of luxury, your life is too stressful and there's no buying your way out of that  Changing that means actually changing your day, what you do, and yourself, how you do it.  Changing your habits of action and thought.

So what is the essence, what is basic to happiness, what makes life satisfying and rich?  Here's one inroad to finding our own answer: take, oh, an hour to get started write and expand on a list of ten things you've done in your life that you really enjoyed doing.  Think about this not from the standpoint of ecstasy or our-of-body experiences or super fun, think more about what skills or faculty you were using.

I'm sorry, I have degenerated into advice.  Forgive me, I'm a grandma.  That's what we do.

[Instructions for the apron are free at this delightful website.]

1 comment:

  1. Immediately, working hard in my garden comes to mind, but I'll have to dig deeper.