October 7, 2009 §
I forgot to mention that one significant way my life has changed since moving here is that I’ve actually managed to find time to read. Reading was something I used to do occasionally in the back room of the slide library, at my old job, when I wasn’t entertaining my self with talk radio and nerdy political humor blogs. Or, *cough*, actually doing my job scanning photos of art from 1970’s library books and sweetening them up in Photo Shop. (Absence of Photo Shop is another significant way in which my life is radically different now.) I would also find time to read for approximately five minutes before going to bed, but only on the days that I actually made a conscious decision to go to bed, instead of falling asleep on top of a pile of art supplies in my living room with all the lights on and my iTunes on shuffle. So that meant I read one book every two to three months or so. Point is, I am a changed woman: I’ve read two books in one month! I just finished reading Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. There’s a lot of stuff in the book that I don’t usually read about and I don’t necessarily relate to (spiritual journeys, divorce) but it has one key element: travel. Travel with purpose. Gilbert explains it like this:
“I wanted worldly enjoyment and divine transcendence – the dual glories of human life. I wanted what the Greeks called kalos kai agathos, or the singular balance of the good and the beautiful. I’d been missing both during these last hard years, because both pleasure and devotion require a stress-free environment in which to flourish…”
She spent a year eating pasta and gelato in Italy, meditating in an Ashram in India, and working for a medicine man in Bali, Indonesia. My real fascination with the book, beside the travelling, was the idea that we need beauty and pleasure in life just as much as we need goodness and wholesome discipline. Maybe it’s my Midwestern roots, or just the fact that I’m a member of the work-a-holic, guilt-a-holic race known as middle-class American woman, but I have a tendency to confuse beautiful, pleasurable things with things that are frivolous or wasteful. If you are enjoying yourself, you must be doing something bad. It’s total foolishness. It’s also really problematic for someone who wants to potentially make a career making things that are for beauty and pleasure. So, I may not necessarily be looking for a path to God and rich food, but I am looking for a way to carve out a niche for myself by making the world both a more beautiful and pleasurable place (Because I think aesthetics have a real impact on the human experience. I really do.) and equally a functionally better place, for everyone, not just the people who are looking for a new designer object to drop a few hundred dollars on. Equally. Substance and Style.