#Mood wasn’t this so 2015 or something like that? Where did that go? #Mood. I loved it. All these emotionally literate hipsters trying to visually capture the idea of a late afternoon sugar rush. Yes that’s a thing, especially if your begrudgingly British like me. I recent weeks for reasons yet to be disclosed I’ve been hanging out with an Art Director friend of mine and we’ve been talking a lot about aesthetics. Me being a trained curator and her being, well, an art director that’s hardly unusual. What has been coming to me though recently on my pathway to Zen Goddess that aesthetics are important. You’d think a four year degree in Art History might have taught you that? That’s why no one should go to left-of-center art schools I suppose (winky face).
The study of The History of Modern Art and Design taught me something else entirely that revolves around the word arbitrary. As I soon discovered much of what we think is meaningless, subjective and well pointless and the only value that anything actually has is the value you give it. Quite liberating actually. If you want to find out more you might want to read up on the power of cult. Modernist Theory is so closely related to creative means of production; that if studied indepthly, it’s hard not to become nihilistic about art, life and well everything. You see how easy it is to spiral down? Thus explaining post-modernism.
Great works of art, whether it be painting, sculpture, architecture, all forms of design or indeed explorations of visual culture (lets say Instagram) have to power to uplift, motivate, inspire and in fact connect us to the divine. One walking tour of Paris confirms that. We all want to be moved, comforted, reassured our at the very least served by the environments that we occupy.
It is also possible to deliberately evoke feeling with aesthetics, as you would with music. Que the cheesy background music over almost every motivational infomercial these days. It’s kind of boring. These perfectly curated and complied content. Show me the mess. I do like to get high on little bit of rainbow. I’ve even have a Pinterest board about it Colour Me Happy.
Given my theoretical basis for understanding aesthetics and on related issues of beauty and the fact that we live in a construct. I am firmly of the opinion that we create our own inner realities. Spiritual development is largely related to non-attachment. That the material world is nothing but a distraction from the metaphysical quest of wholeness. Except of course we are all whole already. The thing is, this curious idea of mood, that can be summed up in dusty old railway stations, a Christmas trees or even the colour of a painted wall and how it detracts and refracts the light as is dances round the room, morning to evening, winter to summer. As celestial being affected by matter and intrinsically connected to material a world it’s hard to not let our visual reality impact our inner reality. Isn’t that after all why we have embodied ourselves in the first place. Whoa this seems to pretty advanced stuff on here today.
I’m a Xennial. In case you don’t know what that means I am of the generation x that became the generation y? and then off course it was the end of the alphabet and a millennium, so here we are Xennials. We grew up in analogue and fueled the digital age with our endless drive for new technology. The changed the way we communicated were a composite part of creating its culture. When SMS (Short Message Service) became text and well text is so l8r we depend on WhatsApp. We grew up with black and white television, had to teach ourselves how to plug in the internet, there wasn’t even a world-wide-web. We had noticeboards, forums and chat rooms. We started out local and rapidly became global, even if you didn’t live in London. It’s been wild.
Now this information download starts before you’ve even had coffee or tea or taken a piss. My morning journaling is rudely interrupted by Trump updates and app reminders, in order to navigate my best possible self. Planning, scheduling and productivity are the core components of human life as we now understand it. While we absorb inane information that rarely impacts change on our increasingly precarious species.
Does any of this matter? No not really as we will bumble along in our relentless lives regardless. It is making me search longingly as I realise that technology has deeper roots into our connectivity than ever before and the slow act of natural community is both corroded and enhanced by our digital age. I realise how hooked I am, I think I want to connect. Yet I am connecting with myself and others through the glow of a MacBook screen, or the flicker of a phone message in a room alone. If I walk out the door there may not be anyone to connect with. The local shop keeper perhaps? If you are lucky enough to have a shop nearby.
Which begs the question? How do we connect? Is it by WhatsApp message only? Is there something I am missing out on here? I still like to walk places. I still like to pop in, without an invitation. These days it’s becoming an increasingly rare activity; living your day fully connected with the moment as it is, information transmitted over the natural super highway of thought feeling and intuitions. I used to call it real time existence where I would wander off into town on an errand and find myself lost in the world of living. It was so liberating.
I am constantly seeking connection and I now wonder what more I can do? Switch of the phone? Work mornings only? Stop writing emails and start writing letters, to regain control of time. We should not be instantly available or constantly contactable. No, no, no.
So it’s time I think that I personally begin to claim my life from the digital database. Go rogue and pay cash. Like in the old days before every interaction was trackable on the cloud. Every instant message a fingerprint in time. Time to change, time to get out of the connectedness trap.
I’ve spent the last few years really exploring what it is that as humans we have to do to in order to heal ourselves and embrace our soul journey, while still actively engaging with Earth the Human paradise the perfect place to grow.
It occurs to me that often in this life journey and particularly in the west that the route for many people and the way to spiritual growth is through travel. Travelling is a term that gets banded about without much thought to its actual meaning or even its implications in the most general of terms. The idea of travelling now to me also highlights how disconnected we have become from the idea of dharma and the experience of the human bodily experience. It also draws attention to the concept of bought experience, as our expanding idea of culture and how this is at odds with almost everything that we know about spirituality. This for me brings back into focus the idea of pilgrimage.
For a long time the idea of traveling in and of itself has perturbed me. I write this as someone who has lived in several different countries and find myself in my current incarnation living in Cape Town, South Africa very far from the country of my birth. At some time in the noughties two things happened; the travel bug lost its luster and it became quite clear that carbon fuels were destroying the planet, with any one plane journey rapidly burning through a full year’s allowance. It was obvious that if you were a conscientious world citizen plane travel was a big no no. In the meantime the Guardian still flouted climate change disaster headlines across its front cover, while still published the most exotic far flung and obscure destinations in its extensive travel segment.
Now for me when I think about travel and more specifically about journey’s I realise that most people aren’t interested in travelling. The want to be transported. We no longer want to be in our bodies and travail the earth. We want to be delivered to other worldly places in order to discover ourselves.
It’s the ultimate capitalistic pay off, many spend months working in bars, years even scraping together the cost for the trip of a life time. When all they really have to do is step on to the road outside their front door and make a decision. Often people go places and they have no idea why they are going there. Everybody else is doing it so why can’t we. In the current age the need for travel seems to be a quest for cheap beer. Escapism from escapism.
Yet we espouse stillness and mindfulness as a cure all for almost every spiritual ailment. In fact we fly thousands of miles to find stillness. When all the answers are here. Right within us.