Tuesday, July 08, 2014

pretty vs life experiences


I've been thinking a lot about the damage the internet can do to one's outlook and/or self esteem. I love the internet. I do. I love the inspiration I find here and I especially love all the goodness corralled on Pinterest but I am finding there is something not so great about all this pretty out there. It is inspirational yes but to what end?

I'm not very good at articulating all the things that float about my head. I think I am but then everyone misunderstands and I am left confused by my efforts. But here is what I have been thinking about this new photo worthy world we live in. Pretty is nice. Pretty makes me smile. Pretty is pin worthy...right? Right? I take pictures of pretty things. It makes me happy and it pleases me but that pretty, while it is true and it is there...it is not always present. I actively work on making pretty happen during my days but sometimes it does not happen. And that's ok. Some days there is so much goodness and so much laughter and yet no photos are taken no pretty is shared...does that make the experience any less real?

Does that make sense? Okay, here is another thought...first, I write about this because of all the blogs and posts and photos of things like vintage trailers and glamping and adorable chicken coops and all those current trendy bits that are so pretty and prevalent on pinterest and the like. I love a good vintage trailer, and I really want a chicken coop (complete with chickens but I also want a pygmy goat and a duck...yes a duck). I have for years but those are things that are not attainable for mr. a-go-go and I...not right now and maybe not ever. We've talked about our plans and dreams for these things more than a decade ago before we got married, before blogging was huge, before Pinterest. I'm sure many others have as well.  But these are not gonna happen for us but life still happens regardless...right?

And so while we do not have a nifty trailer or backyard eggs (and I in no way mean any snark to those who do) we do camp, a lot, in a tent the color of a cheetoh on vintage bedding with not a woven rug in sight. We road trip in our tiny car packed so full of gear we cannot see out the back. Sometimes we remember to bring the oilcloth along for a table cover, sometimes I remember to hang a garland but mostly I forget or we are too caught up in the experience which is the point really. Life is not a contest of who has more pretty bits than the other. It is not a race to see whose vintage this or that is authentic. Life is about living, about joy, about experience and well I fear all the pretty we see makes us stop living as we falter in trying to catch up.

Here's a little background as to why I am writing this. The mister wants to build a little truck house. Something like a gypsy caravan that we can travel in. He is very specific in what kind of vehicle he needs for this to happen and frankly he is a bit persnickety about it. As he draws out plans and shows me photos he has found of other trucks I imagine how cool and pretty it is going to be. The colors and happy and all the good stuff I can photograph, pin, tweet, and/or instagram. But this idea has been in his head for four years now. At least. And while I would indeed love to be all braggy and show you the awesome gypsy van I travel in I would much rather actually just get on the road already. All this waiting for perfection is keeping us from adventure and experiences. I'm tired of waiting and I asked him why can't we just get a beat up mini van, throw a mattress in the back and hit the road already. Life is short. Let's experience it to the fullest.

I'm not saying that if you have a pretty trailer you are a traitor, not at all. Go for it, have fun, take pretty pictures but make sure you are doing it for a true life experience and not a show and tell. Polka dot curtains are no match for sitting in a cold, cold creek with tiny fish tickling your toes in the middle of Arkansas reading a ten cent novel from a thrift store in Arizona simply for the joy of it.

Experience is something that you can carry in your heart. Memories are things that can bring a smile to your face (think Arkansas creeks full of tiny fish). I remember how badly I wanted a '57 Bel Air wagon but ended up with a '68 Valiant that was three shades of primer grey instead. While the car did not look like the car I wanted, it still got me places. I still stuck to the vinyl seats as I drove through the San Fernando Valley in 105 degree weather in search of banana popsicles. It still played my rickety old Brady Brunch cassette that six of us sang along to on our way to go ice skating in psychedelic mini dresses and velvet chokers. I do not have a single photo of that car but I remember it fondly. Every bit of it. Sure it wasn't a two-toned wagon but it was mine and it got me to where I needed to go.

I am rambling I know but I really want you to love the life you have. And if you don't, think about the reasons why. If it is because your apartment does not have wood floors or you can't find enough pallet wood to build a table you don't really need (I am speaking for myself here) or because your hard earned money goes to bills more than vintage frocks, make a list of a life experiences you would enjoy and do them. Start small and make them happen. Go out and take pictures of pink things. Write a haiku about your favorite food, watch the sun set, watch the sun rise, listen to a favorite song and dance to it. Pretty or not, take the time to experience the goodness around you. Chances are you'll find the pretty was there all along.


15 comments:

  1. All I can say is, you took the words right out of my mouth! :)

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    1. Hi Laurie! Yes, right? I think the process of "everyone" striving to live the prettiest pinworthy life might be taking away from enjoy the now.

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  2. I loved your post. Gratitude is very important. We're so blessed and sometimes we don't even see it.

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    1. I agree. So blessed. I think of all the "things" I would like to own only to shush myself when I acknowledge what I already have now.

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  3. you're so awesome.

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    1. aw thank you shanalee! yer ain't too shabby yerself.

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  4. i fear blogger ate my comment, which was, of course, awesome and erudite and probably worthy of instagram. *sigh*

    i've "known" you for a long time here in the blogosphere and to me, your life appears creative, colorful and quirky in all of the right ways. don't compare yourself to those instagram accounts that are surely run from somewhere in the back of harpo studios, embrace your real, beautiful life. and get the boy out there to work on that caravan...time is a-wastin' and boys need projects.

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    1. Darn that blogger! and of course your comment was awesome and erudite and worthy of instagram...all of your words are! thank you for the awesomeness. i was hoping this post would influence others to not compare. i'm good, i'm just wishing the boy would just get a van already so we can hit the road, polka dot curtains or not.

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  5. Blogger ate my comment, too, but essentially I wrote about how I recently killed my Pinterest account in an effort to stop wishing, and start doing. It's been just a couple of weeks but I am amazed at what a difference it has made, both in my appreciation of what I have, and in the time that it's freed up. I had no idea how much time I spent tracking things down - where they are located, where I can buy them, where I can find a version I can afford, and so on!

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    1. (I miss yer pins!) I'm caught up in a vicious cycle of time wasting online. I can't go outside because I get so sick but if I stay inside I feel I am neglecting my soul. I miss outside. I miss breathing without consequences. At least I am broke enough I don't even bother trying to track down all the pretty out there. I make it...sort of...and thrift it....and write about it....

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  6. Don't wait! You never know what life will bring. Get that old van and get out there - you may even find the truck of your dreams along the way! What makes things beautiful is that they are interesting, probably why I love vintage - not because it's "authentic", but because it had character and was designed with more than a bottom line in mind. Stories don't come from perfect things - they come from the imperfections and things that didn't go quite the way we planned.

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    1. I'm not waiting! It's the mister...his persnickety self needs the perfect truck to build on...or the best minivan for mileage. Me? I just want to hit the road...time is a wasting! i love the story of vintage too!

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  7. Thanks so much for this post. Internet beauty, perfect, coolness comparisons are hard! Sometimes, after I've lost an hour and a half to pinterest, I think of all the living and creating I could have done in that time. Instead, I've been parked in front of my computer ooohing and ahhhing over someone else's living. The internet is a love/guilt relationship for me. You articulated some conflicting sentiments beautifully. It's one of the reasons I love to read your posts, your open and authentic honesty.

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  8. Blogger ate MY comment from the day you posted!!!!!
    It said:
    "STANDING OVATION FROM THE LAUNDRY ROOM IN THE HOUSE BEHIND THE HEDGE"

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