Wednesday, 26 January 2011

On fun

The other night Chris and I stumbled upon a documentary about origami, a film called Between the Folds, directed by Vanessa Gould. I have always found origami fascinating, but I had no idea how seriously true origamists take it: folding paper can be an art form, a way to help build space research equipment, or to learn more about the way we understand mathematics and geometry. Among other hugely talented and fascinating people who work with origami, the documentary features Erik Demaine, an associate professor at MIT. As several of the people interviewed talked about the potential of origami, the fantastic world of possibilities that it could offer, it was Demaine's final remarks in the documentary that made me pause. Yes, origami had a lot to do with Demaine's work on folding algorithms and puzzles, but he also folds paper in his free time because it is fun.

It sort of hit me that I have found myself rather serious lately. I do a lot of things that I enjoy: I read, I watch movies, I knit, I listen to good music. For the most part, though, my key word is interesting rather than fun. I am drawn to problems and things that I long to understand better. I spent a long time in the Strand bookstore in New York looking for books on the history of psychiatry rather than, say, kitties.

I got to thinking about the types of things I do just for fun, and I couldn't think of much. In the spirit of the origami documentary, I recognised the sincere love I have for jigsaw puzzles, but living with six cats makes active puzzle-making a little tricky. I used to roam second-hand stores and flea markets just because I enjoyed it, but TGAAD is making me feel awfully self-conscious and serious about the whole world of fashion and clothes, too. I love gardening, and for the most part that is for fun, too, but I get horribly beat down if my plants die - last year I actually cried over tomato blight. It seems that I take life way too seriously.

I wonder whether I have always been like this. I was an over-achiever at school, I worried an awful lot about people's perceptions of me even when I was a child. I also used to be terribly cynical about the world, and I didn't fully believe in love and beauty even if I desperately wanted to. These days I feel like I am able and more than willing to enjoy small things in life, and I would certainly claim that I am over being a sad pessimist. There are times when I feel I have to keep prodding myself, though. I easily let my interest in the odd, the problematic, the analytical and the scary take over my spirit of fun. Who knows, maybe I have been reading too much on old mental institutions. And the stupid GAAD is making me not love what I used to love about clothes, and that surely can't be the point of the whole experiment. On second thought, maybe I am taking TGAAD too seriously, too...


Cynthia said...

I certainly felt like the GAAD was crushing my fun and instilling a lot of guilt associated with something I formerly liked. I called it quits, and am going to spend this year trying to discipline myself without giving up clothes-related fun entirely.

Anonymous said...

Oh dear... Serious? You?
Well, I believe in something...we could call it a "soul" or "spirit" or something like that. If people were musical instruments, there would be a specific sound in everyone of us. And the older I get, the more I think it's something we are born with. Sometimes I stop and look at my son, and think where did this boy come from? There is this certain "something" in him too, which I or anyone else has nothing to do with. Also, I have always thought that you (and also our dear brother)are the most serious AND funniest people I've ever met. And I know for a fact, that there is some of that in me aswell. And in Chris too, that's for sure ;). There is this dry sense of humour, joy of playing with words and language, and tendency to develop a fixation towards anything from russian teapots to...for example origami.I also have a picture of our "very serious" brother wearing this thing made for keeping the teapot warm, on his head. As a hat. And I've seen you organize your tin soldiers on top of your books as an interior design element. And you ARE the crazy cat woman! You have made a song for my cat, and you also sing it to him, you have done that for years now, and the cat knows the song! We walk bare foot,we pick flowers, we stare the sea, watch birds, discuss politics, wear weird clothes in public, laugh and cry, we make up own words,and we never get bored with the world. And, what is "fun" anyway? You've heard the line "don't think so much" as many time as I have. And it doesn't work for us. What's the point? Not thinking? That's not fun!
Terveisin; sisko jonka ponnarissa on pena, joka kerran joi ydintalvi-viiniä, kutsuu veljentytärtään hasbulatoviksi ja katsoi kun sisarensa pukeutui lawrence of arabiaksi työhuoneen takahuoneessa samalla kun itse esitti tamponia.

Karenina said...

Yeah, GAAD isn't for me either. I never went on it, but I have become much more conscious about what I buy and why I am buying it, which I think is just as valuable (if not more so). I mean, most crash diets don't work, so why would GAAD? We need to change our behaviours, and that needs to be learned gradually, with time and practice and forgiveness of ourselves (for lack of a better term).
I've decided that I want to buy clothes like the stereotypical French woman; less of them, better quality. instead of buying a bunch of cheaper threads, I am planning bigger purchases for higher quality goods that, although they come with stiff price tags, will probably serve me much better in the long run in terms of their style, construction and beauty. Yes, I will still have my moments of weakness at Zara, I am sure, but right now I am enjoying the fact that I seem to have regained some control of my spending (only pj's this month so far and it's been 3 weeks!). I'm also looking forward to a really nice designer handbag. :-)

Everything in moderation!

Rad in BK said...

Interesting. I actually think my personality is a bit like yours. I've been told that I am silly and funny person, and I am also extroverted. However, I am pretty serious and I would rather read books about economic crises than kittens, as well.
I've been following Amy Chua's coverage in the press (she's kind of horrible but I can't look away) and one of things she said that stuck with me is that she recognizes that it's hard for to "enjoy life." I think I forget to do that often myself. Even when I'm idle, I often have guilt about not being productive. My career choices don't help this. I need to be more purposive with pursuing recreation.
GAAD kinda stresses me out, mostly because clothes shopping (and accumulation), especially of the thrift variety, is an outlet for my limited visual creativity (I really am I quite limited in when it comes to pretty looking things). I like how I can go to charity shops and see potential in other's castaways. I may end GAAD or amend rules further to allow myself this outlet.
I have faith that you'll figure out how to renew your love of clothes.

SnapandPrint said...

When you meet up with the moment, be it a line in a documentary or something a friend says, that makes you notice you may be taking life way too seriously, it is always a good time to pause and make a few changes.

I had that moment last year and have decided to not take life too seriously this year. I be more optimistic and have fun more often. It feels really good and while I have my serious moments...I don't feel stuck in "stodgy grown-up" mode like I had been for ages.

As for GAAD...maybe it is teaching you to find balance in your love of fashion. To have fun with soem not planned for purchases yet really look at what you are buying so that you amke better choices when you are buying for fun? Just a thought I had on the subject and your post.

DanaVM said...

These people make the coolest origami jewelry, but sell chiefly in Europe. The sell in a store in Helsinki though, and I was so tempted to ask you to look for one of the cube (they call it a ball) necklaces for me the last time you were home.

DanaVM said...

Forget it, just saw the prices. Can do better on Etsy!

Shey said...

As I was reading your post my son tried to carefully ask if he could get a game, that sneaky child haha, he saw me very interested in what I was reading (your post) and thought I was going to nod "yes" but he said the magic word "buy" and I knew I had better listen to him or I'd be $40 dollars short. But anyways, I think it's your nature to be more analytical, and that's okay, don't be so hard on yourself, you are a very bright woman with a clear sense of fashion, both usually don't combine and I really like that about your posts, you are interesting, your posts are smart, sometimes above what I can comprenhend because I'm more artistic then intelligent but it's very refreshing to read your points of view on different subjects. Usually the average blogger just describes their shoes or the weather. Maybe the TGAAD is teaching something else aside from not spending or not spending money on clothes. I'm rambling a lot, I just want to tell you that I appreciate your intelligence and your interests are interesting to me too, even if I just sit down and read from my side of the screen. Enjoy the simple things of life, life is beautiful and so are you. =)

Charlotte said...

Your sister (second commenter) seems to know you so well and to love you so unequivocally. What a gift that is. Once, a boyfriend broke up with me because he said, "You're too serious for me." I had the pleasure of responding, "And you're not serious enough for me."

You look at the world carefully and thoughtfully, but I can see from your face you have great joy within you and a warm sense of humor. Being serious and being joyful are not mutually exclusive.

Eyeliah said...

Seriousness is a tough one, though I may not display it on my blog (or maybe I do). I have struggled most my life with being too serious. I decided (3 months ago when I quit my job) to start living in the moment and not being so serious. I am happier (much) but there is a downside, my productivity is way down and I'm unemployed! For me and maybe for most the challenge is connecting with the balance between.