Last weekend I put up curtains, pictures and kitchen storage kit; trying to change one’s surroundings by keeping it clean and streamlined. The curtains to bring more light, considering that winter often brings depression, so light brings more optimism like a psychological boost. But the house is still a mess, in need of vacuuming and floor polishing, kept like this for the time being as one works on its walls; I am an expert now in setting up curtains and other implements, going up ladders, drilling holes and screwing in curtain rods and the like, choosing colors and matching combinations; thinking that the curtains also provide security aside from bringing light in. A colleague was surprised , wondering why one would spend money when in fact there are deeper reasons other than cosmetic or style but at times I start to wonder if this is a good use of time, trying to improve a modest house, thinking that one should have a larger house, falling into the trap of seeking a larger place for one’s self esteem rather than need and function. This is the expected occurrence of living in an affluent state, to constantly look for the bigger and better option, putting one’s debt to the limit just to verify one’s self worth.
The house plants have started to wilt, feeling that one is again over his head, buying too many plants but not having the capacity to keep it healthy, like biting more than one can chew, a feeling I had when I was digging in my back yard, excavating earth, making it flat and laying tiles until I strained my back. One wonders if all the house work is needed, spending money so one’s surroundings are as one would like; not the ascetic ideal of accepting what’s there, like one’s fate but one has a responsibility to the family, to keep the home respectable. It is like a role to be played, like taking an officer position in Toastmaster, to get experience but to perform the rituals needed in that role. I stepped up the ladder thinking about learning new skills and realizing a bigger commitment than initially thought. One doubts his performance; thinking of shortcomings, afraid that it is not up to par, that one will fall flat on his face. But one thinks about his ancestors, to know what type of DNA is wired into ones genes, understanding that one is the scion of engineers, teachers, administrators, managers, judges and lawyers. One needs to continue the line in the expected roles of one’s lineage.
I watched the movie ‘The Ruling Class’ staring Peter ‘O Toole, a wonderful movie anchored with O’ Toole’s wonderful performance, providing a glimpse into English aristocracy, where madness and eccentricity are close cousins. The entire world is a play; hence, one must play the role in one’s mind, perhaps like an actor planning how to act in a scene, the best metaphor to live successfully in life. How it would be easy to think that life is a performance, avoiding all the angst and doubt that inhibit one’s actions, instead thinking that all is a game; at play in the fields of the Lord, the playing fields is the office, meetings or reunions - the machinations within one’s clans, respecting one’s eccentricities or even madness. Perhaps it is why the Windsor’s are such great topic, the intense scrutiny by the public provide an intimate picture on how to live; to play the part given to them. The ordinary folk need guidance; celebrities are not role models so one looks at royalty or politicians or watch a Shakespeare play. Coming into a new position is like assuming a new role; one needs to research what is needed and the imagination to innovate so a great performance is achieved. The year has just started so one needs to look within, the examined life as Plato propose, to go up the ladder and perform the new role.