22 April 2013

Life / Style

I'm kind of bugged by the word lifestyle.  Maybe because it's so trendy and ubiquitous right now. There are lifestyle books and blogs and on it goes... it's like we live in a world created by Oprah. Here's a guru, now be your best you ever!!!!!

That said, I realize that one may want a certain kind of life, dare we say it, a certain style with which one lives, and those kind of things don't just fall into your lap.  Thoreau went out into the woods to live deliberately, and he'd probably be horrified to have me quote him, because he was not going out to deliberately organize his dishes in way that was easy to live with and aesthetically pleasing at the same time.  Then again, Mr. Thoreau's mother did his laundry, so we should only give him so much credence.

There is something, however, in living deliberately.  I'd say it's probably imperative that if one really wants a productive life, one would need to do something about it.  I want my home to run in a particular way.  I would like to enjoy the small moments each day fully. And so on.  I will have to deliberately employ some sort of method to accomplish these things.

I think what I don't like about the word lifestyle is that it sounds and often seems and feels superficial.  A style, in common parlance, can be changed, is prevalent, mutate-able, and is often driven by today's material consumerism.  It feels fueled and focused on the self in a way that I am uncomfortable with (I, myself,  spend more than enough time thinking about my own wants and needs~ I would like to do that less). We spend so much time thinking about it, constructing it.  We are so aware of our presentation.  It really feels like something apart from our true selves (gah, "true selves." Things can so easily sound so trite, can't they?)

This is the thing: Did Mother Theresa have a lifestyle?  Or did she have a life?

Alright, I concede that may be an extreme example, but I think it gets the point across.  How much outside arranging of our wardrobes, our cupboards, our schedules, our selves, constitute a real life?
Much like Pinocchio becoming a real boy, it wasn't in the island of pleasures where he became real.  In fact his pleasure seeking turned him into an ass.

In today's lifestyle world we can add being a good, unselfish person to our checklists as so many self-help magazine articles have done. (Exercise, drink 8 cups of water a day, exfoliate, and don't forget the spiritual side! so do a good deed today!) But really being a good person comes from the inside, not the outside.  It's not really a checklist kind of thing, is it.

Still, here I am, fixing up my house to make it a presentable, even beautiful place to live.  I am going through our stuff trying to throw out what ever I can to simplify, simplify.  (Thoreau again.  I must have a love/hate relationship with that man.)

I am aware, however, that if I spent all of my energy on this, to the exclusion of how I interact with those around me, my friends, my family, my community, it is mostly for naught.  Because when it comes right down to it, one should rather have a loving, working family life, than a dolled up living room.  I admit for me, these two tend to play off each other, and if that is what my lifestyle is, so be it.

I'm not sure I am expressing what I want to say all that well.  And on a certain level, I am sure to be a lifestyle hypocrite for all that.  In today's world it's hard to escape from the allure of it all, and I can be just as much a sucker for it as the next person.

But what I really want people to see about me, is that I have a life.  Not that I have cultivated a lifestyle.


  1. Thanks for this post, Allysha. I think you put this really well. I've been thinking about this a bit, too, as I try to decide what to take away from Pinterest (for example). I want to do what I do (whatever it is--make a meal, paint a wall, read a book), not to be admired or seek approval or because of some prescription in the culture but because I love and because I am living my life. I want any resulting "lifestyle" appearance to be purely coincidental, not the aim.

    I do seek after a way of life, though, and I think we really are influenced by our settings. Sometimes creating the setting involves a bit of frippery that might seem shallow but really contributes to the overall feeling, the magic of place. I'm thinking of my grandparents' cabin, for example. They decorated and created not to exude some lifestyle but to provide a setting for love and connection. Okay, long comment. I'm rambling.

  2. Here's to life over lifestyle! I am all about living deliberately, so as not to be unthinking. An there is the famous Socratic quote, "The unexamined life is not worth living." But that seems to consist of looking at what you do and why you do it and then deciding to keep, add, or just toss altogether depending on the superficiality, or self-absorption level of it. Dare I use this example? Does woman "A" work on her living room to create a place her family and friends can really gather, feel comfortable, enjoy interaction, etc., and then actually take time to do said things? Or does she think, "This will be a great blog post so I will see it done!"

    Tricky to navigate because it is such a personal thing to know the motives behind your actions, etc. Good thoughts.

    P.S. I've been thinking about Henry David...the butt of many jokes for his laundry situation. I have come at it from a new angle this morning. What if his mother couldn't stand the state of his clothes so she began to insist she do his laundry? I used to always think, "Poor woman." But now I am beginning to wonder, "Smothered son?"