I recently came to know of Jen Hatmaker, blogger/mom/author/speaker, who wrote the most hilarious post, “Worst End-of-School-Year Mom Ever,” which had me laughing so hard I was crying. It’s gone viral, so if you haven’t read it, get on it & do.
I was searching her on You Tube, when I came across her video called “Possessions,” part of her series on simplifying her life, written about in her book 7.
In this video, she describes her experience traveling to Ethiopia during one of the trips to adopt two of her children. As with many third world experiences, first world citizens are often humbled by the modest homes and means by which their hosts live. Mama Hatmaker’s host brought in a meal, prepared in the outdoor kitchen which, as Hatmaker describes, was really just a covered space with a fire. The host told her, “This meal was made with loving hands.”
Hatmaker goes on to ask, what if, instead of focusing on making a house of beauty, we focused on making a house of love? A house wherein we loved well and were loved well?
Earlier in the video, Hatmaker described how her host made no apologies for the state of her home, & at first I thought, “Well, of course not, why should she? It is only by Western standards that we place so much weight on the appearance of a home.” And I thought it was therein that Hatmaker was revealing her own ethnocentrism, but I was wrong. Hatmaker was setting up a realization that she had about her own need to decorate her home: She realizes that it’s because she wants to impress people. She wants people to like her. And clearly, somehow, we’ve been conditioned to think that having a well-decorated home makes us more impressive and more likable. Why is that? I wonder. What does it say about us to others if we have all the accoutrements of interior design?
Beauty is a wonderful inspiration–if it moves us to do good & do well. I believe that the concept of aesthetics is essential to the human experience. As Ken Robinson describes it in this TED Talk, it is when all our senses are heightened & we are experiencing everything in the moment, when we are fully present in our sight, sound, smell, taste, touch, in our mind, body & spirit. I think we strive for aesthetically pleasing homes for this reason–because we want it to reflect our values and encompass us wholly. But sometimes our endeavor toward beauty misses the point of this, & we live in the future of what we desire & not in the present beauty of what is–which may be the people in our home, the warmth, the chaos, the mess, the meals, the imperfection.
So, how have I attempted to free myself from the lure of beauty & the race & pressure to have the coolest, most gorgeous home everrrr? First, I unsubscribed to all those wonderful companies that so generously offer to deliver their updates! & promotions! & sales! & the latest! to my email inbox. And I Pinterest less & only follow the boards that inspire me to do things, rather than just digitally hoard pictures that make me covet. It’s insidious, you know, all those perfectly photographed visuals showing up in my inbox or feed, with all the shiny, glittery faucets & chandeliers (for the laundry room! Yes, that will make the laundry so much more glamorous to do, I know it!), chevron patterns & toile, all those massive kitchens & baths for a house I don’t live in, all those pools & manicured gardens for a yard we don’t play in, all those fixtures! & frames! Seriously, all the totally not child-proof fabrics & surfaces that will make my life any easier to live. Tile! Glass! Staircases with no railings! White shag area rugs! Please, peeps, who am I kidding? I don’t need to do this coveting daily, because honestly, it just makes me less grateful for the completely functional, safe, kid-friendly home that I already live in now. And less gratitude cannot be a good thing.
The same with the clothing companies, because really how many maxi dresses & wedge heels do I need, & I look like a top about to fall over in those skinny jeans anyway (whose body are those meant for?!). Enough with the subscriber sites for DISCOUNTED DESIGNERWEAR! Every once in awhile, I will get that uncontrollable urge to purchase something (what I call The Biological Urge to Gather, see more on that in a future post), & when that happens, I’ll head on over to Target. Now, if I can just get by that dollar section of the store…
So, click UNSUBSCRIBE & free yourself from all that noise. Who needs Satan knocking at the door if you can keep him at bay with just a click?