Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Frivolity and Romance as a New Philosophy


--Op-Ed--

I have been feeling very romantic lately; who knows, maybe it is the spring and the coming of mating season. I want to put on a pretty dress and long gloves and have afternoon tea for hours on end while batting eyelashes at my beloved. Why not? Where has the poetry of romance gone?

I think we have all become too practical and purposeful. It seems like a society we have all have taken ourselves too seriously. Communication tools are all focused on making our time so efficient and our accountants are all about making our money go farther. Our kids are scheduled to the last second and our caloric intake is measured to the very calorie. Every minute must be spent doing something meaningful and productive. How dull. How highly unromantic. How utterly unsustainable.

How much more fun it would be to teach our kids to spend lazy days wandering through fields picking flowers with mom, or spending money you could be saving, on a work of art you deeply love, or eating fabulous desserts guaranteed to add pounds but just as guaranteed to give you bountiful pleasure with each spoonful. Joy and romance and freedom and frivolity are somehow dying like some wild animal near extinction. Why has pleasure become our martyr for modern living ? We are planning our selves to death and in that making ourselves painfully dull, even to ourselves.

I for one, in the depth of my soul, hate all this practicality. For one thing, I hate organizers and date books as my husband will attest. I buy them often (at times more than one at a time) and love the feeling of the crisp new pages ready to be filled with plans. But once the plans make it on the page - the book loses it appeal. The possibility becomes planned and in doing so, dies a slow death with every scribble of my pen. So I avoid it, regardless of consequences. It's true, I miss appointments, arrive late and often find myself entirely forgetting occasions - but I find comfort in not having my time owned by a little book. I find this somehow very romantic and I like it.

I would like to launch a new campaign for the death of practicality. I know there are risks, but for one I like the rewards so much better. I would like to see women wearing gorgeous impractical shoes all the time, just because it makes them feel sexy. I would like to see random strangers being coquettish as a matter of outright etiquette. I would like to see labels on food telling me how much joy they will bring me instead of how much sodium. I want my kids teachers to place as much value in teaching laughter and humor as in teaching map skills and colonialism. I want steady infusions of joy and pleasure and romance and have this be the measure of my society.

It might sound silly, but silly is good. It might sound impractical, but that's the point. Perhaps if we all loosen up a bit, and stop being so damn purposeful and significant we would all actually enjoy each other and our selves a lot more. And perhaps with daily doses of meaningless pleasures we would be more easily inspired to take on great causes, make great changes and be the great people we all want to be - when it would would all be filled with a lot more laughter, simplicity and meaninglessness than significance, responsibility and meaning.

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