I recently finished reading The Architecture of Happiness by Alain de Botton. Before I wanted to be a nurse, I wanted to be an architect. I remember going over my best friend's house in middle school and looking at her dad's floor plans for construction sites he was working on. The lines and maps fascinated me, and growing up, I loved drawing lines. I hated drawing people, but I loved drawing lines, buildings, streets, and landscapes that required a lot of lines! While a little over my head during some parts, Botton draws on our relationship with our surroundings - our reactions to our environment and how the environment is sculpted in response to mankind and its needs and times. Below are a few of my favorite lines:
The last quote is certainly my favorite. These quotes, in congruence with having just finished The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, really made me appreciate the value of my environment and the things that I own. I've always liked decorating for as long as I've known - don't we all? When you had a room as a kid, what posters did you put up? And then your locker in middle school? Were you one of those people who had cut-outs of a magazine pasted all over the inside? If you weren't, I'm sure you decorated your dorm room in college. We all want our space to be a testament to the person we are. We all want our personal belongings to be reflective of the person we aspire to be.
These books really made me reflect on my journey on my personal space.
I decorated my rooms like crazy from childhood throughout college. Not only was it fun, but it allowed me to be in a space that was purely my own. Marie Kondo challenges the reader to imagine how delightful it must be to be in a room filled only with items that bring you joy. Now that I'm older and have moved into a small, one bedroom condo apartment with my boyfriend, I realize how necessary and mature it is to declutter and have the balls to let things go. I'm a sap, so I hoard everything. I used to keep old birthday cards, pictures, random trinkets and etc., but I now realize that objects contain emotional value and once you inherit that emotional value, there's no need to physically hold onto it anymore. Do you see the interplay? Botton says that when we see something beautiful or enticing, something that appeals to us, our natural reaction is to want to own it. Really, though, you pay such little respect to that object by merely owning it or buying it. You could be doing yourself, and the object, a much bigger favor by appreciating its merit and absorbing its true character. The short of it is, you don't need to keep things around. So once you've owned it, let it go. And I don't mean own by buy and keep. I mean own it, breathe it, feel it, understand it. You don't need a physical, tangible being to remind you of the type of person you are. Those qualities have been, in essence, mastered. And you don't need the object to show it to you.
I had a friend who was part of a really great dance team one time. He felt honored to be dancing alongside one of the best in the game, but the dance team was also ginormous and so he figured the director didn't recognize or remember him. That director, Pharside of Academy of Villains, came to Boston one weekend for World of Dance Boston, a huge dance competition. During intermission people had the chance to line up for autographs. My friend got in line in hopes of getting a signature from Pharside, only to be surprised that he wouldn't give him one. No way was he going to sign my friend's hat. And why? "You don't need my signature man, get out of here." Okay, maybe he didn't say those exact words (I can't remember them to be honest). But that was the gist of it. He didn't need this man's signature to prove he had danced with him because he had that experience for himself, it happened, and he didn't need it in writing.
So back to the idea of the value of the things you own. Think of your favorite t-shirt. Why'd you buy it? The wallpaper on your phone. Why'd you choose it? Pretty common sense, but the items we choose are the characteristics we hope to embody one day. You can learn a lot about a person based on the clothes they choose to wear. The things we buy in stores and the things we crave to have on social media are things we think we need to live a happy life. We get them to make us feel a certain way. The relationship you have with something before you even buy it, to me, is astonishing, powerful, and fascinating.
Pay attention to the things that ring with you, because whatever stirs a reaction out of you is telling you something about yourself in one way or the other.
Just food for thought, as I'm growing older and starting to appreciate all the little things in my life a little more. Now to deep clean the house before our new couch arrives next Monday . .