RHYMES&REASONS

Observations, Thoughts and Reflections on 21st Century Life

Tag: Capitalism

Life – Where is Thy Meaning?

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‘Afternoon Blues’

One of the most asked questions ever.  And well into the 21st century it remains unanswered.  Even Google falters at this one in an age where image and instant reign on a glorious and exalted unsatisfying high.

For the last six months I have been slowly but surely dismantling the material elements which made up my late father’s life.  The process is almost complete, a few final loose ends to tie up and then all semblance of his daily life will be gone and only memories, photographs and a few small heirlooms will survive.  You would have to look hard to know he had lived and breathed on this earth for 92 years.  What meaning did they have for him – perhaps his four children, three marriages or his Christian religion stoically observed Sunday after Sunday. I will never know.

Both parents gone and you seriously begin to think about your own mortality – the creeping weeks and months which so rapidly descend into years.  Don’t let anyone tell you that time doesn’t speed up the older you get – I so does!  And yet, with my father’s genes and a brisk prevailing wind I may well see one score year and ten more.  Thirty plus more birthdays, thirty plus New Year resolutions to make and break.  Thirty plus more chances to live meaningfully.

The thought both elates and alarms in equal measure.  On days when things are going well  that doesn’t seem long at all –  just over half as much again as I have already skipped through – not long into which to squeeze the rest of my life!    On others when all seems bleak the time stretches gloomily into a distant grey horizon – oh my, at least half as much again as I have already stressed my way through –  how will I fill those long hours and days, keep the anxieties at bay, avoid the blackest clouds and stumble my way to my final hour.

We are cajoled, coaxed, coerced and consumerised into believing that a state of constant happiness is our goal.  But the foundation stone of capitalism has become our stumbling block as the constant seeking of happiness proves forever elusive.  We try to access it with things, we view it as a destination to be reached and once there we can reside for ever and a day.  But I suspect that state cannot be sustained, and is unlikely to provide the meaning for which we search.  I don’t think I would want it that way.  The meaning and purpose of our lives can often be found in the darkest corners, in those hours which seem the most bleak.  But when we eventually emerge into the light once more oh how much sweeter.  Like the colours in a painting, the light shines so much more brightly when placed next to the darkest hue.

The meaning is in the doing, in the striving, the anticipation and in the possibility. When we push ourselves beyond our comfort zone, when we are prepared to take a risk, when we allow ourselves to step beyond our familiar threshold and let go.  Those times we spend alone, absorbed by our activity and undistracted we truly live the moment.   These are the experiences which paint our emotional memories.  Sometimes they burn us, sometimes elate but they are soaked into our soul just as the warmth of the sun will transfer the image from a negative onto the salt paper, the fine details captured for posterity. These are the ones which we will recall when we reach our eleventh hour.  These are the details which give life meaning.

‘Afternoon Blues’ by Rebecca Pells

available from https://www.fineartseen.com/product/afternoon-blues/

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The Burden of Choice

      'The Writing Table'    www.rebeccapells.co.uk

‘The Writing Table’
http://www.rebeccapells.co.uk

Since the middle of the 20th century choice has become the cobweb in which western society resides.  The driver for consumerism and chief supporter of capitalism it is the meeting point of commerce, politics and our personal lives. The axis around which we chase perfection and happiness as along with the goods, we buy the idea that choice is desirable.  Choice has become synonymous with freedom – freedom to exert our preferences and spin a life exactly as we wish it to be.

  Expectations are raised and goalposts moved as we succumb to the intoxifying lure of possibilities.  But too much choice can leave us overwhelmed, saturated with options and oppressed by the burden to make the right decision.  Freedom becomes our jailor as complexity leads to paralysis and fatigue.  Too much information and too complex for us to be confident we are making the right choices; at worst it leaves a trail of anxiety that we may have got it wrong and at best a background sense of dissatisfaction that we may have missed something better.  The thrill of possibility turns to tedium, procrastination, exasperation and ultimately despair of ever achieving our goal and we may in the end withdraw from engagement altogether.

I experienced this first hand last week, spending days at a time staring with increasing chagrin at my computer screen as I attempted to work my way through the hundreds of options and variables a I constructed my new website.  More than once I was ready to give up – the sheer volume of decisions I was ‘forced’ to make was overwhelming.  Convinced that I might miss ‘the one’ I spent hours scrolling through hundreds of font styles, sizes, UPPER/lower case, bold, italic, underlined, custom –  the options were infinite.   The anticipated creative experience turned sour and it was only when I took a step back from the keyboard and revisited my original goal – for a clear and simple site to showcase my paintings –  that in the end I took control and returned to the essence of my desire.

Surrounded by the vicissitudes of life we hinder further our progress by allowing unnecessary complexities to seep in and saturate our daily lives until the picture has become so blurred that we loose sight of our original horizon.  We literally feel swamped by the flotsam and jetsam of choice and anchored down by indecision.  The 21st century will not leave us alone, it will not hold back the tide of modernity.  But we can discipline ourselves to surf the waves of amebic decisions and only roll with the important ones.  We have the ability –  the choice – to live our identity unburdened by minutiae and from place where we bear witness as if for the first time.

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For more examples of my art visit http://www.rebeccapells.co.uk

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