A proper weekend. A long weekend, almost, if it wasn’t for working tomorrow, Sunday. (Monday is a public holiday, the Queen’s birthday, which they apparently don’t even celebrate in England, hmm.)
No matter how you’re supposed to create a life where the day of the week doesn’t matter, there’s no escaping the fact that people are happier on a Friday or Saturday compared to, say, Monday. Sunday, for some, may already be about getting ready for the new week, so that may be excluded, but Friday and Saturday are different for sure.
Yesterday was a super happy Friday, and a real cultural one as well (I’m off Friday-Saturday this week – such luxury!). I met up with a friend of mine and we went to the New South Wales State Library, where, to our great surprise, the World Press Photo Exhibition happened to be running at the moment. If you get the chance to see it somewhere, I can highly recommend it. Art really is everywhere, all around, from the most mundane everyday life events to moments of life and death, happiness and sadness, peace and war.
We also went to the Museum of Contemporary Art, which was really cool. I haven’t gotten myself to go there before now, and I must say I really enjoyed it. I used to think that I don’t understand art, but bs! It was a refreshing experience to just wander around with no schedule, nowhere to hurry, while sharing impressions and thoughts.
One of my favorite pieces was a white room full of what looked like praying people molded out of foil, down on their knees. They reminded me of the dementors in Harry Potter, you know, those hovering, wraith-like creatures that suck out every happy memory and all good feelings that you have in you; love, hope and happiness. On the other hand, however, they looked like victims. Victims of… society? Modern society with all things technology and cyberspace.
Having been someone who’s certain that the grass is greener on the other side of the fence, I’ve let myself be affected by the appearance of things – people and their lives – to an extent that what used to be quite the low self-esteem to start with sunk, if possible, even lower. A queen of comparison, all the other girls seemed to have everything, while I had nothing (makes sense, huh? I know…): the perfect body, the trendiest clothes – everything one simply has to have – and a busy social life with the bestest of best friends. Trips here, vacations there, Sunday brunch and what a workout! Yoga, coffee, studies, work – omg, life is awesome.
(Frustration piling up…)
I remember this one time many, many years ago when we’d had a tortilla night with my friends, an evening that I could easily have skipped as I didn’t really feel like socializing that night in the first place (I’m someone who needs their lone time). The following evening I noticed that one of the girls had posted something about it, stating something like ”a cosy night with delicious food and my favorite girls” – doesn’t sound too praising but you get the drill – and boy, when I realized that she’s talking about the same event that I would’ve had no problem to skip altogether I found myself thinking wow. Is this how it works?
I could not believe we were talking about the same event.
Getting the chance to witness the flip side of it last year, the massive, time-consuming preparations for what looks like the most effortless baking session really helped me open up my eyes for what’s real and what’s not. Whip that cream, move that bread crumb just a little further up, a little more, great – now let’s try again! Voilà – the perfect cover photo for the magazine! (And don’t get my wrong now – it was a fascinating experience to witness what’s going on behind the scenes and I really enjoyed it, I really did, but as for appearance none of it is as simple as it looks.)
It’s almost as if I’ve become allergic to it. Knowing where I come from and how much I’ve suffered because of the green grass syndrome and then I’ve not even grown up online, I much prefer connecting with people in real life, no matter how old school that sounds. I’m part of a generation that is lucky enough to (hopefully) have developed at least a bit of a critical eye, but what’s going to happen to my nieces? They’re 7, 5 and 3, and literally growing up with an iPad in their hands!
(Last year one of my colleagues told me about her 2 or 3-year-old niece or nephew who’d gotten super frustrated when trying to swipe a newspaper in order to turn the page with no success. Crazy!)
Another piece that caught my attention, despite being super simple and really nothing special (who hasn’t been to one of those funny houses in an amusement park?), was a mirror with completely distorted proportions. ”Every time I glance it’s just not me”, it was called, and for some reason I could parallell that, too, to modern society. (Where do all these feelings come from???) We try to fit in, we try to fit in so badly and yet what we end up with is a nagging feeling of not being good enough; proportionate, symmetrical, this and that. Personally, I’ve suffered especially because of my back cause it’s literally not symmetrical and there’s no way of changing that, no way. I don’t need a distorted mirror to tell me that, I’m able to distort it all by myself. No mirrors needed.
What these two pieces of art communicate to me is the turning into victims of society, victims of what’s expected of us and what we should be like, you know?
Society: ”Be yourself.”
Society: ”No, not like that.”
I’m not quite sure of what I’m trying to say here. Maybe that after 9+ months as far from home as I could possibly get, at the age of 27 I have finally managed to get rid of that flawed reflection of myself that used to meet my eye every time I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. Also, I think I’ve found my (at times) overly critical eye, because now I know that anything I see on a screen is just an illusion. At best, it’s a photoshopped edition of the hundredth photo, the one that finally succeeded. Filtered and photoshopped, cut and cropped, it might look effortless, but more often than not that’s a ’less’ with a hell of a lot of effort put into it. It might offer a realtime glimpse of someone’s life, however always at a chosen point in time. I mean, who shows the real behind the scenes; the ugly truth, raw and honest; reality, when life sucks and all is shitty and you want nothing more than to go into hiding?
I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who’s been there.
Every time I glance it’s just not me.
If that’s the case, then who is it? A reflection of your surroundings, the prevailing values of society? Who your family wants you to be, who you should be? That might be worth giving a thought or two.
To finish off:
“You only live once,
but if you do it right,