Last week I got shamed for all the leaf litter on the walk way up to our Education Building. "It shouldn't look like that when you have guests in the building" the woman touted. A man remarked to me about the same concrete slab over a year ago as I was sweeping it, "A good shopkeeper always keeps it clean" or something to that effect. I was proud in that moment that he acknowledged my efforts-- a use of my energy I thought was for my own aesthetic...but I had almost the opposite reaction to the woman's comments.
I am not a shopkeeper. I don't want to sell anything to anyone. I don't want anyone's money. I live frugally in a space that's as close to nature as I can get to still allow me to share my views on nature with the world. And nature has leaves. There's a fine line between showing someone you worked hard, and showing someone you're shallow... in my opinion. I can clearly value the opinion that I take pride in my space, and I want to make it accessible and inviting...however... I think our aesthetic standards for each other and this world are unrealistic, unnecessary,and uneconomic.
A few years ago I worked at a Nature Center in Rye, New York. I would enjoy the lovely bike ride over the hills and through the trees to get to work, even through the expensive department stores and Cafes the lined the small main street. I didn't mind the incredible incline of the driveway on my last leg...but I HATED climbing that hill when the local who would volunteer to blow the leaves off the driveway was there. He volunteered his time... to use a gasoline powered leaf blower. To blow leaves...off the driveway...at a nature center. I'm still dumbfounded. The same thing happens at the park I'm at now. WHY do we feel that something has to look manicured, manipulated and touched by (wo)man to be Beautiful?
*I* think it's beautiful when weeds grow in the dirt patches between the irrigated plants. I think it's incredible when a little seed can hold on through the rains and the windstorms and thrive in the environment it has adapted to. (If you think so, too...you should tell my County that they should stop spraying bee-killing herbicides...)
[I actually had to pause this blog for a couple of hours so I could admire the passing colors and shapes of the clouds from a thunderstorm at sunset. (Photos below). I wish we could all pull away from our mirrors and enjoy the simple beauty around us... supposedly some people need additional inspiration for this (like...drugz) ...but that's a topic for another day.]
So, quiz time: How much do your society-inflicted aesthetic-opinions affect your daily decision?
WHY does a businessman have to wear a suit to be respected?
QUIZ: Who do you trust more:
Okay...that may be unfair. (The second photo is the CEO of patagonia. Not wearing a pantsuit or anything. Just chillin', dressed like she's got stuff to do...aside from a photo shoot).
What about...which of these parks would you rather visit to immerse in nature?
(The first one is in NYC...believe it or not)
I'm sure there are dozens of more examples...of how our focus on the superficial has caused us to overlook the important, or spend tons of money and time on things that we deem important, merely to satisfy other superficial desires.Which is why... I plan to start a website ClosetsforCollege.com... asking wealthy people to cash in their expensive garmets to raise money for kids to go to College. (Anyone want to help me get this running?) Imagine if some celebrity sells their Oscar's dress for even a couple thousand bucks. What an incredible gift a semester of college can be to an inspiring academic such as myself. I will maintain that I don't actually remember much from my college classes, but I thrived in the closed community that a college campus provided me...and I know many young adults who would THRIVE given that opportunity. Or at least an opportunity to go to college without holding down a full time job.
Now your homework: THINK about the next time you made a judgement or a comment or have a thought about something's appearance... whether it's someone's outfit, or their car, or the arrangement of the grocery store. There are times when an appearance can tell you something-- like how great a driver the guy with two dented bumpers and a broken tail-light is... but there are other times where our optical opinions inhibit our ability to appreciate the beauty, functionality and downright Good around us.
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