So I’m reading Your Money or Your Life which is really captivating. One simple concept which seems obvious in the book is that if your money is your life energy, then what you spend it on ought to reflect your values. Agreed. I like to spend money on beautiful things, novel experiences and fine food.
I consider myself financially responsible in that I have always lived well within my means and we continually save for the future. If I examine my deeply held values, I have to say I truly care about aesthetics and always, always have. From a child I was into decorating. I remember we had a beat up end table that my mom let me have. I cleaned and refurbished it and turned it into a vignette in my room with my most prized possessions, a white porcelain unicorn with a gold horn and a white rabbit pelt from the north rim of the Grand Canyon. I was so proud and delighted, I had to show everyone. When my dad saw how I had improved the end table, he made me put it by his smoking chair to hold his ashtray in the family room. I was crushed. Not merely because that was an A-hole-y thing to do, but because I lost something pretty that made me happy.
In college, I lived in Leverett house which was notorious for sporting the ugliest boxiest beige and grey towers with faded yellow curtains. I saved money by not buying a plane ticket home for Thanksgiving so that I could buy a rug, a can of paint to paint my shutters navy blue, hunter green bed sheets which I hung to replace the yellow curtains (this was, after all, the late 90’s), and twinkle lights–I was on the cutting edge of that trend. And you know what? Decorating my room brought me joy.
So example A: me. A person who has always cared about the aesthetics of her environment. Would example A be happier trying to not care about the aesthetics of her environment and trying to see aesthetics as a meaningless waste of money or life energy?
It seems like people who care about looks less and who care about material things less than I do might be happier than people like me, but does it necessarily follow that I personally would be happier than I am now if I cut those things out of my life? Can one tell oneself “be less materialistic” or “care less about aesthetics” and have that actually work? Or would I just be miserable in an uglier world trying to fake indifference to my surroundings?
I feel pressured (not sure by what exactly) to reevaluate my priorities and realize what truly makes me happy is going on nature walks with my kids, when if I’m honest, I would far rather be reupholstering shield back chairs.
Again, I’m not arguing that less materialistic people might be happier. But I wonder whether it isn’t similar to finding out that blue-eyed people are happier. Okay, so if I put in blue contacts, will that make me happier? I don’t know.
Has anyone been materialistic or aesthetically oriented all their lives and then been able to change their heart? Did you find yourself more fulfilled? I would love to ask some questions of such a person.
Because all I’m doing right now is fretting over how much I enjoy the time I spend designing my new dining room in my head and online.
On a related note: WHAT MAGICAL FAIRY OF GOODNESS DROPPED THESE MAGNIFICENT HYDRANGEA CUTTINGS OFF ON MY DOORSTEP YESTERDAY?! I am crazy about them, and I must know who this thoughtful person was. You’ll get just as many awesomeness points for the gesture if you tell me who you are as you would for dropping them off anonymously.
And now I promised I would watch Project Runway with Fluffy if she finished her lesson. So far, my money’s on the sustainably repurposing dude.