As a child and young adult, I always got hung up on this one. They'd tell me, "Don’t love things too much (or more than people), because they’re only things and things don't last forever." Things eventually break, or get old and worn out, or just go out of style. Therefore, if I loved things too much, I'd unltimately end up with a broken heart.
Instead, we're supposed to store up treasures in heaven, aren't we? But then I’d look around my world, at my family, the other kids in my class and what is presented to us on tv, and I perceived that no one actually behaved the way I was being told to behave. Everyone acted as if things were, very literally, all that mattered.
Be Eternal - the third from my God & Earth painted fence series.
You had to have a house, which is a thing. And if you had a house in a certain neighborhood, everyone knew you were either “rich” or “poor” based on the demographics of that certain neighborhood. And you had to have clothes, which are also things; and cool clothes at that, because if your clothes we're stylish, you’d be relentlessly harassed. Anyway, I just felt there was this dichotomy.
...I’d look around my world ...and I perceived that no one actually behaved the way I was being told to behave. Everyone acted as if things were, very literally, all that mattered.
As an adult, I believe the way it plays out in my life is more like: Love your things as much as they are worthy of love. Yes, my things: My home, clothing, car, jewelry, and all the other things, have a certain value to me. But, if I really consider the meaning of the word love, are they worthy of it?
When I think of love, I think about certain actions: Spending time, caring for and being cared for, nurturing, exciting experiences. So, do I really love things? What can I say, if I’m truly, really honest with myself?
I remember the amazing feeling I’d get when my mind was focused on bags, or on anything remotely related to them, and that little charge I'd get; a pick-me-up akin to that first hit of...
Olio bag interiors
I collect handbags. I began this habit more than two decades ago when I started desiring to have higher-end bags. I remember the amazing feeling I’d get when my mind was focused on bags, or on anything remotely related to them, and that little charge I'd get; a pick-me-up akin to that first hit of [insert vice of choice here].
There was also a bit of plotting; figuring out the whole purchasing experience and how I might save over a span of a couple of months to buy that one bag I just couldn't stop obsessing about. I’d imagine myself wearing it in different locations, with the various items of clothing and accessories I owned; and thinking about how this person or that person might like it and maybe comment on it. And then the possible need to purchase more clothing and accessories to further accentuate the piece I was gearing up to add to my collection. I started to notice how much time and energy and planning I spent on these types of things.
Now that I realize the insignificance of the things, it seems almost impossible that I ever thought otherwise. People don’t change? I recently put my Louis Vuitton small bucket, cir 1994 on consignment at The Silver Umbrella in Hyde Park.
Woodlawn, Chicago - WInter Wonderland
I walked; no, I was literally swept into the pretty storefront on S Hyde Park Blvd, by 35 MPHChicago lakefront winds...
I walked; no, I was literally swept into the pretty storefront on S Hyde Park Blvd, by 35 MPH Chicago lakefront winds, and laden with all the heavy overcoatings we need in these climates, as well as two large storage sacs filled with several bags by various high-end designers and of varying age.
Did I need the money? Sure, why not, Right? But it isn’t that. And it isn’t simply the whole minimalist movement either; though I'm fan of that movement and subscribe to The Minimalists podcast and email list. It's just that I don’t need them anymore. I haven’t used any of the bags I put on consignment for more than a year. Today, I carry Olio bags, my own designs and handmade creations.
Now don’t take me for a hater. I’m not saying that you shouldn't buy Coach or LV or any other brand, designer or maker you like. The fact that I spent so much money on those designers over the years, carefully choosing that perfect color or bag silhouette, is proof that I like and admire them. In fact, some would say, given the previous description of the thrill I’d get when purchasing one, that I might have been addicted.
I think what I'm trying to say is that I’ve simply entered into a length of my journey in which I need what I need. And what of the things I don't need? Well, I just don’t need them. Maybe someone else can love them.
If you're determined to dive down this rabbit hole, then you have to be honest about it. You have to start from a point of nothing, which is next to impossible because you would have to wipe your mind entirely clear of anything you assume is truth about God, religion, spirituality, humanity, time, life, death; everything you know. The question is, how can you do that when you tend to believe that these truths are actually a part of you?
Many of us are descendants of migrants from America's southern states who came here for many of the same reasons people immigrate to Chicago from other countries.
Providence of God Church, Chicago's Pilsen Neighborhood
The fact is, you might not be capable of an entire factory reset without some blunt trauma to the head. But, if you’re going to be real about this, then you try your best. You make an effort to focus on similarities rather than differences. You resist the urge to shut down or drown out when you hear about the beliefs, customs and ideals of others. And you force yourself to hear the other side of someone’s story instead of the one you've been told and continue to tell yourself.
I like to think about the men and women who settled in my city over the many decades of this nation's Great Migration, and how they created the beautifully vibrant and soulful communities we all enjoy today.
Why are you doing this? Why bother? Because what you're trying to get at is the truth, right? That is what you’re searching for, isn’t it? And how can you say you’re getting at the truth if you don’t know anything about anything else aside from what you already know? The fact is, you don’t really know what you don’t know until you learn it. And how will you ever really learn anything different than what you already know, if you aren’t willing to suspend disbelief in your currently constructed reality to see the world through the lenses of others?
31st Street Beach views of
Adler Planetarium, Chicago
Exploring these areas, these frontiers for human exploration throughout my city - the waters and the skies - offers the perfect white space for a liberated mind.
The frightening this is, when you really look at the world from another lens, the truth you’d been so certain about begins to appear less certain. And then what? That is where you have to make a decision. You can go ahead and jump and say, “Screw it! I want the truth, whatever that may be.” Or, you can hold onto what you already know is true, because it’s you, so it must be the truth.
Balance in one area of your life, or even several, doesn't mean you can honestly say that your life is in balance. And yet, one person's equilibriam is another's chaos. Living a life that feels in-balance is subjective and individual.
Several weeks ago, I posted a blog (Beauty Eclipsed #30: beauty in balance) in which I explored the idea of using balance in decorating and sculpture; and incorporating outdoor elements into home decor to allow for balance between artificial and natural elements.
I find my eyes being drawn to the balancing sculptures that I've placed throughout my condo, especially if I feel anxious or stressed. I look at the simple beauty of the natural elements, their muted, neutral pigments, which seem to contain a calming energy. The one with the log as it's base is especially interesting because it was cut at an angle on both ends.
Persuading the log to balance on its own takes several minutes before I feel confident enough to begin to add stones. The base of a structure is vital to it's overall integrity. My log, if only slightly unsettled, will overturn the smaller stones supported by it.
The base of a structure is vital to it's overall integrity.
everything is as it is
My eyes are drawn to the log and stone sculpture in delicate poise. Inside, a roiling, bubbling cauldron of emotions threatens to topple me.
I see the slanted log, and sense its resolve. Allowing my gaze to travel back and forth, from one side of the room across to the other, I ease into perception. Everything is as it is.
Now the stones, specifically, pull at me; each resting, one atop the next, in serene repose.