Wednesday, May 24, 2017

May 24, 2017 - Simple Things

Small things.  Cherished things.  Little decorative elements.  These make up a memorable home and, indeed, a memorable life.  Not too long ago, people cherished their small and colorful things, their “breakables,” their decorations.  It didn’t matter if they were tattered and torn and mended several times over.  They were still just as loved and just as prized, perhaps more so.

A collection of simple things that bring joy.
A small old wooden table with a scratched and dented surface becomes a sweet place to have tea and cookies when a pretty vintage table cloth is placed on it.  The table cloth might be worn and repaired in tiny places.  The colors on it might be faded and the lace might be torn some, but the appeal is undeniable.  It says, “Welcome, you are home.”

Enter a world full of “apps,” wristwatches that are really telephones and mini computers, microchips embedded under the skin . . .  I’m not sure how it all happened—and so quickly!—and I’m not sure why, either.  I’m not sure wondering about it makes much of a difference.  But happen, it did.  And here we all are in a strange new world where the latest gadget is highly coveted, money is now openly God (as opposed to secretly), and young people have nothing tattered and torn that they truly love.  Some have yet to even find something they love at all.

Saucer and sugar bowl, WS George, Peach Blossom, 1948.
It’s all fine and well, of course; it’s progress, so they say.  The world must keep on moving.  We can’t stand still, they say.  I have nothing against all the newness.  At least, not usually.  Most people will go in the direction in which they are led, and that’s not always a bad thing for most people.  The world does not operate according to a single person’s whims but rather to the whims of the majority of society.

But when we search back in our minds in times of stress and trouble—those times that hit us all—it’s the little decorations we find waiting for us in the corners of our memories.  It’s the faded lace and the old teapot and the sweet cookies we think about.  We see them as if in a dream with sunlight streaming in through a window, gleaming off the clean and simple surfaces.  If we strain our ears we can still hear the old music playing, and we can still smell our favorite dish cooking.  If we’re honest, we can admit that it brings tears to our eyes.

Saucer and creamer, Artmark, Occupied Japan period.
It’s the simple things in life that matter.  We hear that all the time, don’t we?  And I think most of us agree with it, but once heard, it often leaves our mind as soon as it enters.  Many people are so busy today, and that is not their fault.  That’s the way society seems to be purposely geared.  They rush to work and spend all their energy there, and then they rush home through crazy traffic.  They often eat something that’s not good for them because they’re exhausted and tired.  Then they unwind with something that will shut out those flashing lights.

We cannot live in the past, but we can live like the past.  We can choose what we want—some would call it cherry picking.  We can do that.  There are no laws against it.  We can take the simple things that bring peace and joy and security, and bring them into our own homes right now.  We can turn off the gadgets for a few hours a day.  We can stop paging endlessly and uselessly through mind-numbing “social” media.  We can turn off the flashing lights and the loud noises, knowing full well that we can go back to it all later if we so choose.

Cup and saucer, Currier and Ives, Blue by Royal, 1950s.
Start wherever you are.  That’s always a good place to begin.  Empty the cupboards and throw out or give away everything you don’t use.  Clean everything.  Make it sparkle.  Make it simple.  Make as much open space around your “things” as possible.  Put an old cloth on the table.  Pour a cup of tea and have a hot biscuit.  No noise.  No gadgets (hide them for now in a dresser drawer).  No flashing lights.

Then sit and think and remember who you are.

American Limoges, Chateau-France, 1940s.

Limoges France, Statue of Liberty trinket box, 1940s.

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