Galvanize Me

I’ve been feeling rather at odds with the world in the past couple of weeks. It’s like I’ve reached a tipping point and I’m just so fed up with all that is wrong with the world—the lack of female representation in the media and in my work environment;  the casual disowning by retiring baby-boomers of the myriad issues facing their children and grandchildren; the modern economic lens that frames every decision as ultimately selfish; the way so many people are locked into a consume-and-dispose mindset…

At the same time, I’m surrounded by events that roar with love—close friends getting engaged, another recently married, and the celebration of some big milestones in my own marriage.

And a part of me realises that this slow-burning fury can galvanize me into action, into living as though a better world is possible. After all, surely the point of anger is to help us protect ourselves and those we love most. So, in that spirit (and with an unapologetically cheesy wedding theme), here are a few things that have been inspiring me recently:

Something old: I’ve rediscovered the pop punk anthems of my teen years—and I still love them! I was amused (but somewhat disheartened) to find that the rebellious songs of my youth still feel so applicable, what with all the condescending advice older generations keep spitting in the local media.

Something new: I’ve started using instagram, and it’s bringing me a lot of joy. The combination of artful pictures and simple words packs a powerful punch. I’m even tempted to start posting my own photos, although I’ve always preferred to express myself using words rather than images.

Something borrowed: A wonderful blog post by Ryan Cope on Plastic-Free Tuesday highlights the gossamer-thin line between being either weighed down or motivated to keep fighting by the endless stream of plastic waste humanity is generating.

And some blues: Mahogany L. Browne’s poem, litany, captures some the essence of blues music, as well as some of my own recent feelings of frustration. I’ve written before about my love for blues dancing, but reading litany made me question whether I—as a privileged white woman from halfway around the world—have the right to seek and receive so much pleasure from a music style with deep roots in hardship and struggle. Perhaps the answer is to further educate myself about the history of blues while continuing to appreciate the music and the dance for the joy it brings me and others in my community. After all, it’s times like these we most need shared moments of joy to bring us together and remind us what’s most important in life.

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What makes a home?

My partner and I moved into our own place together for the first time a few months ago. No flatmates, no family, just the two of us. In anticipation of this event, I got incredibly nesty and found myself lusting over homeware catalogues and decor-filled pinterest boards. For some reason, the purchase of homeware became synonymous with making a home a place of my own.

This all vanished as soon as we moved in — partly because I was acutely aware that we didn’t have space in our tiny apartment for any more stuff, but mostly because the desire for a place of our own had been fulfilled.

"Home is where the books are" (photo by Kamal Hamid, https://www.flickr.com/photos/evergreenkamal/3774469213/)

Home is where the books are (photo by Kamal Hamid, https://www.flickr.com/photos/evergreenkamal/3774469213/)

The question of homeware acquisition is coming to the forefront of my mind again in a different way, as we plan our wedding gift registry. Like many modern couples, we’ve been living away from home for several years and already have a lot of what we need. Replacing it all with shiny new items doesn’t appeal to me. More importantly, we know we’re going to be living in a pre-furnished house for at least another year after we get married, so any homeware gifts we receive will just join our existing boxes full of stuff in storage. What’s the point? Why not receive something we can use right now, instead of acquiring yet more items that we’ll forget we even own?

But when I recently read the story of another couple who have had a similar experience with wedding gifts sitting in storage for a couple of years, I began to see that my short-term thinking is at odds with the long-term planning of a marriage. What does it matter if we have to store our household belongings for one more year, or even several years? We all intend for a marriage to last the rest of our lives, and good quality wedding gifts can serve us for that entire time. Then, as we grow old and grey(er) together, we can look around our home and be reminded of the love and support of our wedding guests all those years ago.