Friday, February 17, 2017

Slipping Into Minimalism


When first I could shoot for this week’s style post there was a bliss-hard (you know it as blizzard. I am into it!); when next I could shoot the cold was hostile. But the real suspect is exhaustion, also the name of my new state of residence, with motivation as its unruly ghost. But the subject is not the level of said body’s fatigue but what goes onto it and a little on why. Here is a gist of my style resolution: acquire no article of clothing/shoes/accessories unless absolutely necessary. The idea is to give creativity more challenge in working with what’s already owned, which is so much more than needed and much more than wanted. And this would reflect here in future style shots. This experiment has failed in previous years because there was no real understanding or craving for practice of theory. However, the contemporary perspective on life seems to decrease, tremendously, the difficulty felt in previous years. There is also the eerie reminder that all Grandma’s possessions, including body, remained behind in death. It is the spirit that must concern one, for it is that which carries on. Thus It seems possible that December will find my space richer and merry in less.

The first 18 years of my life were lived in uniforms. This probably fueled the excitement for wearing something different every day when suddenly uniforms were no longer the law. There is also the role my first job played on my materialistic beginnings. Working in a good retail space that sold beautiful items at affordable prices made it easy to crave and feed. Thus paychecks were exchanged for unnecessary things. But sometime last year I started to remember the bliss of uniforms: the forgotten freedom of not worrying about what to wear or feeling as though one has nothing to wear when one, in fact, has too much to wear. When I started working outside home, one of the first things I did was to designate a few article of clothes as work-clothes and only wear those to work. This made getting ready for work super easy. There is no stressing about what to wear and there is more time to create and enjoy a bit of the morning before heading out into things.

Back when I had just become free of the uniform, I had no knowledge of my sense of style. But would come to learn soon enough.  What I did not know then is that style is not how much one has, but how tastefully one puts together what one has and carry oneself in it. My aesthetic is changing, and I desire less where once the desire was more. I have let go of much material possessions and the desire is still to be unburden of more. But I soon realized that the agony of suffering more when less is desired could be a priceless experience. Thus rules have been established to prevent the tossing away of everything at once for instant gratification. For it seems rewarding myself, instantaneously, the relief I seek may serve as a disadvantage in the long run. Hence the rule is to keep everything that I do use and can make use of. Only that which has been worn out completely can be disposed of. Call it purgatory. It amuses me how energetic I have become in studying my possession to see if they are ready to be let go. Perhaps you wonder, what stops me from treating the possession horribly to speed its disintegration? Well that is part of the rule. I am not allowed to do that. It is cheating. If anything I am taking even better care of my possession. This makes it more of a punishment in a sense, but it will help me become even more happier when I am finally able to take care of less. Can’t wait.

So you say, what is gained from following these seemly silly and torturous rules? Well, discipline. The idea is to suffer a past habit into extinction. To use the results of the habit to reverse itself. For desire is not as permanent as habit. So even though I crave less now, it is not yet a habit; that which is habit is consumption of more. Hence the materialistic habit can reform once the current desire of living with less is satisfied. But if satisfaction of present desire for less is treated in such a way that it is fueled and propelled, it could advance into a habit in of itself, thus extinguishing and replacing its opposite. Here is an example: a few days ago, I was finally able to let go of one of my oldest and favorite high-tops. First I had to make sure that it was really worn through and ripe for the garbage. And when it passed examination, I was able to dispose of it. The feeling was beautiful. Owing one less pair of shoes brought me an incredibly good feeling. Moreover, there is no desire to replace it, just a hunger for the next moment when I can let another thing go. Thus letting the emptying happen gradually is a more enjoyable process,  in letting go of both possession and habit. Two birds, one stone.

wishing you well,
j

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Winter Diary: One at Table For Two


The spirit of the new year still a young robust cheer within, I found myself walking by a favorite place to eat––a bit overpriced and all, but because eating there is a once/twice a year event, I don’t complain––and I did not pause for thoughts, I went in, sat at a table for two and waited to be served. This is a big deal to me! You see, I have been shy about seating alone at a table for two for eons. Whenever I think to do it I chicken out; killing the urge with a string of silly excuses.

Of course, once the whole thing started feeling real I begun to tremble like a leaf; I could not decide if I should keep my eyes mostly to my shoes or the table. Eventually I started to look around only to realize that no one gave a farting cow––and even if they did so what? When my food came, I ate very slowly with an obvious trembling hand. It all felt like a good laugh.

At one point, when I was almost done eating, a little queue of groups of two and more started to form closer to the door, and behind where I sat.  Their stare fed me a need to hurry, but disobeying the feeling, I kept my slow pace. >:)

When it was all over and I poured out onto the street, on shaky legs, I felt so cool and the air felt so fresh. My steps were light and I flew all the way home.

-
j

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Let Everything Happen by Rainer Maria Rilke


Let Everything Happen

God speaks to each of us as he makes us,
then walks with us silently out of the night.

These are the words we dimly hear:

You, sent out beyond your recall,
go to the limits of your longing.
Embody me.

Flare up like flame
and make big shadows I can move in.

Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.
Just keep going. No feeling is final.
Don’t let yourself lose me.

Nearby is the country they call life.
You will know it by its seriousness.

Give me your hand.

––Rainer Maria Rilke
As translated by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy

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Happy Valentine's Day! ^_^


Monday, February 13, 2017

Observation: An Old Woman Crossing the Street


She tottered slowly on, pushing a four legged walking aid, across the street. Only midway through, the traffic had turned green from red and a car had come to a halt a few feet from woman and walking aid. The incident brought to mind a common cartoon scene I must have watched a thousand times. Something fitting from an episode of Tasmanian Devil, perhaps. The memory dragged a smile up the corners of my lips. My gaze went back and forth between driver and street-crosser, and I assumed, based on what usually happened in those cartoon shows––rather than the very little I could make of the driver––that he was probably glaring at the woman crossing the street with undiluted impatience. He would not think of what she must be feeling, being only halfway across the street and at the mercy of his temper and machine. It is likely she is frightened. Then I realized I had no memory of ever considering the event of crossing the street from the angle of the old persons I have encountered several times wobbling slowly in crossing.

Perhaps  the driver, like I, too, have taken for granted many times, is not thinking of how much the woman wished to hurry away from the street––how she would fly across if she could; how her inability to do something that others around her are doing so easily must be frustrating to a certain degree. Chances are she had not always needed a walking aid. That not so long ago she would have made it across the road before the lights changed. She would not have found herself in the way and at the mercy of another’s patience. Perhaps the driver does not think about how curious it is that one’s legs could get to such an almost useless condition.

By now the smile had crawled away from the corners of my lips. I was surprised that I had never really seen this situation before. My gaze was now intent on the woman, silently cheering her slow steps toward the sidewalk which had started to feel like a finish line in a race. The driver does not think, I continue to assume, of how every step she manages is equal to a yard made by his car. All he feels, perhaps, is the nuisance of a senile woman crossing the road, unlike a snail, when he had somewhere to be. Not allowing that she, too, had somewhere to be. I am the driver, I tell myself, and the old woman, too.

-
j