I find our modern Western culture baffling. I think I’ve always found it baffling, but when I was younger I couldn’t put my baffled-ness into thought or word.
Our obsession with youth baffles me. Young people are idiots. Young men drive like lunatics and can’t think past the end of their penises. Young women are unpredictable hormonal time bombs who can’t control their emotions and often have zero self worth. Who the hell wants to be 20 – it’s torture! Yes, we wrinkle as we age and don’t look as pretty as when we’re young. So what?! I’m 46, who is it I’m trying to impress? Middle aged people who have had plastic surgery look like freaky Cabbage Patch dolls – don’t any of them own mirrors?! To me, there is nothing sexier than a greying wrinkling middle-aged man, who’s happy in his skin, has lived and loved and has a twinkle in his eye – yes, Hugh Jackman, I’m talking about you 😉
Our obsession with material wealth also baffles me. Did Jesus not change the world? Did Gandhi not change his country? Did Mother Theresa not heal the sick? Did any of them live in gated communities, drive a BMW or own 300 pairs of Manolo Blahniks? Er, no. In fact, whenever I see anyone driving round in a £40,000 car I just think to myself “what a knob!” – after all a Fiat Uno gets you from A to B in the same amount of time for £35,000 less cash.
Fashion totally baffles me. I’m curvy, have middle-aged spread and look stupid in skinny jeans yet I can’t find any other pair of jeans in the shops because some idiot-who-needs-to-find-themselves-a-proper-job decided last year that skinny jeans were “in”. And the same idiot-who-needs-to-find-themselves-a-proper-job also decided that this year yellow was “in”, despite the fact I look like a heroin addict in yellow. We all dress alike, then try and customise the clothes with accessories to look different from each other. It’s absolutely bonkers and the reason I wear very little other than my pjs, jeans/shorts/polo-neck sweater/t-shirt and my wellies/trainers.
What does a Nike logo, collecting fine bone china, driving a Mercedes with leather upholstery and having a wrinkle-free forehead when you’re 50 tell you about a person? Does it tell you whether they’re kind, or funny, or intelligent, or compassionate? Does it tell you whether they’ll make a loyal friend, a loving partner or a protective parent? Of course not. And really these are the only things that are important.
When you’ve “seen the light” on what makes us happy and what’s truly important it’s difficult to understand why other people can’t see it too. The lunacy of false eyelashes, nails painted with union jacks, tattoos (WTF are they about?), logos (who the hell cares whether your bag is Channel?!), gadgets (the only time to get a new TV is when yours no longer has a picture, and the only time to get a new mobile phone is when you drop yours down the loo and it will no longer switch on). Get a LIFE developed world and stop trying to buy/surgically enhance yourself happy – I have big news for you, it doesn’t work.
As I mentioned in a recent blog post, last weekend I visited a local bluebell wood. The sun was shining, the birds were singing, the butterflies were collecting nectar and the scent from the flowers was heavenly. I pottered about for an hour then decided to ring my Mum (well done O2 for having mobile reception in the middle of absolutely nowhere 😉 ). This was our conversation:
“Hello it’s me”.
“Hello” (with surprise as she knew I was out taking photos) “is everything alright?”
“That’s why I’m ringing. I am having an absolutely awesome afternoon. I know the word awesome is over-used but I’m using it anyway. It’s awesome here and I wish you could share it with me. That’s all I wanted to say.”
My afternoon in the bluebell woods didn’t cost me a penny but it was priceless. The flowers didn’t care that I have a muffin top and my arse is heading south – and neither do I!