"The best writing--whether 'realistic' or 'fantasy'--tends to involve us in life more deeply...Good literature may give us escape, but it also brings us back, rearmed with insight for our everyday experiences and with a new appreciation for the texture of actual life. Bad literature makes us despise our lives, wishing we could be like the fictional people we read about and causing us to regard our ordinary lives are boring. Good literature makes us understand and appreciate our lives, opening our eyes to the drama and significance of the story we are living."
(Reading Between the Lines by Gene Edward Veith)
To continue on the concept of glamour, I learnt something surprisingly similar to Veith's observation.
After all, I'm no different. I know what glamour looks like and how it makes you feel. I envied a lifestyle which certain pictures and blogs and captions evoked--I didn't know exactly why, but they gave me certain vibes, good vibes obviously, which I wanted to have when I looked at my own life. Interestingly, it was hard to define what exactly I wanted when I closely examined this feeling. And in a moment of insight that I've been grateful for ever since, I realized that sometimes I was aimlessly envying the vague vibes of this personal definition of glamour, when I already had my own version in my life.
When I broke them down into something as concrete as possible I realized that--discovery of the year!--I actually had many of them in my life already. Except they weren't packaged the same way. They weren't picture-perfect and sometimes they didn't look the same on the outside, but deep down, the essence of what I desired was there.
For example--which is embarrassing but probably necessary, since I lack C.S Lewis's genius for expressing an idea with breathtaking clarity and simplicity.
Those idyllic images of cushy window seats with an open book and a steaming cup--half of them feature a girl in floppy oversized sweaters and her hair in a deceptively messy-chic bun (I have never been able to pull off a bun, which probably added to the allure of it.) Bonus point if it's raining outside. (reference above image for a good example, pulled from thousands of others on Pinterest.) They were especially appealing when my bedroom was a mess, I ought to have been studying, and I could see my schedule in my peripheral vision (I learnt this impressive phrase from my physiotherapist sister,) lying open with its pages woefully full of empty boxes to tick and scribbly dog-eared memos falling out...
Pictures like that exude a warm, fuzzy, but admittedly vague sense of comfort and serenity. They make me feel '...if only my life was like that, if I had moments like that, I would know I had it together...I would be happy.'
Which is pretty much the effect of glamour which John Berger describes (though window seats and books may not be exactly what you associate with glamour.)
I'd overlooked my 6 am quiet mornings, with an orange mug that's unabashedly ugly but able to contain a glorious amount of that wonderful beverage tea; an old Bible filled with fading bookmarks, and an open journal covered with my spidery handwriting. Not much of a view, because the sky is black still; but the magic peacefulness of a house when its humans are asleep. Forget about the window seat and messy bun (one day, maybe.) When I see photos like that on Pinterest, I can relate the feelings they evoke to moments in my life, enjoy both better, experience the aesthetic delight of the spectator without the taint of envy.
And so Veith's comment on how good literature--and good art, I would suppose, though not being an artist I shouldn't dare speculate--should empower you to live your real life more fully, with greater appreciation and value and understanding, became something that adjusted my perspective of Pinterest. (you weren't expecting that now, were you?)
I thoroughly enjoy Pinterest, as should be pretty obvious, and as such Veith's words were helpful in learning to have a balanced relationship with it. As with anything else, it can become a black hole of time wastage. In particular you can end up constructing your ideal life vicariously in boards, neglecting your actual life. (I used to think that the temptation to get lost in virtual reality was absurd in computer games and Sims etc, but here I see its very real appeal!) Apply Veith! It's pretty straightforward with Pinterest--your pinning ideally should end up enhancing your real life. Master a great recipe or learn how to create something, throw a wonderful party, or have a badass room makeover. Whatever. It's a good sign if it gets you excited to get off the screen and do something about reality.
I appreciate Veith's wisdom and John Berger's insight, for helping me be more conscious of the effect that certain things in the media have on me. For helping me appreciate and value my own life better, and be better equipped to use it better. And of course, for helping me to identify life-changing value in what I read and see--whether through the experience of truth (and I think of Dostoevsky) or beauty (and I think of Shakespeare) or--what a great blessing!--both (and I think of C.S Lewis and John Donne.)
a quiet voice
Ci thinks some of God's greatest blessings to mankind are
all images from Pinterest unless otherwise specified. thanks, Pinterest!