Sunday, September 5, 2010

5 September 1956 “Comments Continued…”

My latest comment to your comments on yesterday’s post was too long to be processed as a comment, so I am just making it into today’s post. Therefore, it is my continuing comment on those comments made on THIS post.
Missfifi-isn't it funny how often the 50's are shown as the time of 'keeping up with the Joneses' and certainly that was somewhat true then, but not like today. Today it is all about who is the coolest, hippest with the latest gadgets or most ironic tshirt saying or lowest rise most expensive track suit.
Dianne-That is very kind of you for thinking of me for the top ten list. I thank you again.
Sue G.-Vive la Revolution!
Jenny-Your husband sounds very right on. Funny that our phones should be a mobile office of organizing tools and blackberry's and stylus pens to keep our lives in order and yet it only adds to the chaos and includes one or more things to have to add to an already growing list of demands. How about a filing cabinet. A desk phone. A briefcase. A calendar. and a Weekly 'to do list' simple AND effective!
It is also so true about the branding of adults. Once this was a teenage or childish pursuit, but in a way it only cements what I have come to fear, all the old adults are dying off and we are left with the grown babies. Rather one is hip or cool or has the latest gadget is not a surprise for someone 13, but when one is a mother in her 50's it should not matter. Of course, this type of attitude only continues to teach the subsequent generations how important that is.
I was thinking how whenever someone drives by with their music blaring SO loud that you can literally FEEL the bass line, they are obviously doing that for OTHERS more than themselves. It says, 'Look at me, this is who I am by the definition of this song'. If they enjoyed that music, wouldn't' they listen to it at a comfortable level and who cares if others heard YOU listening to it. We live so much THROUGH the media of TV/computer/phones/text that we think we ALL OUR ON TV all the time and we have to live each day as if it is our reality show. "HEY LOOK AT ME" we all cry. And in some ways I almost feel as if we as a culture have so little to really say or think with and to ourselves that we are just grasping for anything for identity. It is truly sad that is out there to grasp is so empty shallow and pointless.
In some ways I worried that my own pursuit of 1955 was just that very same atitude: Look at me. And quite possbily in my early still modern mindset on 1 Janury 1955 that may have been my subconscious drive. However, what I have come to learn and feel of the depth and breadth of the homemakers of the past and truly that very War Generation has become more about the quality of my life. To me, when I dress vintage, it is about my own personal pride. There are days that I might not even be out in the public in any way, yet I am still dressed and living my life through vintage means. This is because it feels solid and real and tangible and honest to me. There is no one there to see me do it, yet I do it because it feels right and is for me and my family. That feeling of quality and purpose to life is often missing from the modern world. I am not sure why it vanished, but I have a strong feeling it went away when the importance of life switched to how cool you are and how many things you can own. Even now, many aspects of life are simply a drive to buy products that somehow represent the box in which you want to be put. If you like something you wear the advertising for it on your body, fill your shelves with the molded versions of it, yet all the while are not truly living it. Owning something does not give you the power of what it once represented.
That was the hardest lesson for me to learn as I ventured into 1955. That to simply buy up a decade in objects was not truly living or feeling what it was to be there. Now, most things I use and own ARE vintage, but their use is more tantamount to the production of my day than to how ‘cool’ or ‘retro’ I might look. My old mixer has the advantage of being lovely to look at, but that meat grinder attachment gets a good workout and all my foods are made in those bowls for my family to eat. My clothes are lovely, to me, but do not merely represent a new form of the t-shirt that says, ‘Hey I love 1950’, but both stand as a uniform to my day of pride of that time and also practicality. It is cheaper to make my own clothes and keep and maintain their sturdy construction by me than to simply plop down 20 dollars at Old Navy for an entire wardrobe.
I guess this is all really continuing the same thoughts I have been having of the actual tangible quality to a vintage life. What that can really mean. And I am all for filling our homes with vintage items because they DO make one feel a certain way, but then I want us to really take those items, look at what they did and perform tasks with them and see how the simpler aspect of your life, the preparation of food with less tools but well made beautiful ones actually DO MAKE A LIFE and is not a chore. Many of us have no problem setting aside 5 hours of a Sunday to sit online, but ask someone to take an hour to make, rise and bake bread and you might as well ask them to fly to the moon. I think this does a disservice to us. We people are much smarter than we have allowed ourselves to be in the ease of the modern world.
The real truth and the ‘secret to life’ is often just this:
Life is NOT better when it is cheaper and easier. Hard work often DOES=Better life
And when we begin to see that what we consider ‘hard work’ is actually the actions of living, we will realize it is not work at all, but life itself. They say God is in the details and surely Life is in the Doing not the Owning.
And as Jenny pointed out, try not to judge and to teach our children not to judge is the right and often the hardest thing to do. Perhaps because we are so judgmental ourselves we are so scared of BEING judged.
Many people write me and say they wish they could dress vintage or try to live a more vintage life, but they are afraid. It is hard, but we must let go of this fear. And we, as humans, are natural judges, but if we can learn to look kinder to others than perhaps we can, in turn, be kinder on ourselves and not worry of others judgment. Who cares, truly, if you are wearing a full on 1950’s outfit, hat gloves and all, and others stare at you. If you feel good and proud of this, do the opinions of others who ARE judgmental truly matter more than your own?
This is always a hard lesson, but it once was was the lesson of adulthood. There are countless episodes of 1950’s sitcom where the wiser mature parent teaches this lesson to the children: Do not judge others, be kind, and don’t worry about ‘going along with the crowd’. While today I am sure sitcoms have the parents merely older versions of the teens, worrying about how cool they or who has the best stuff.
We have lost that entire generation of mature parents. There is no Father from father knows best or Donna Reed to turn to us and say, “Now, darling, don’t let what those people are saying about how you are dressed bother you. They, themselves, must feel inadequate or hurt to hurt others. We must let each of us live the life we must, but truly people are good and are just misunderstood or misunderstanding”.
I hate to think of the modern mother role model of today in her SUV shouting at the other drivers while on the cell phone. Her kids mindlessly staring at the video screens in the seats in front of them, branded with their favorite character or store, while piled in the back is their daily booty of bags of frozen foods and soda and later that night, the mother borrowing her daughters cool top to go out and ‘party’. I want a grown up! I want someone to say, ‘it matters little what they say, but MORE what you do. You should live right and conscientiously and you will feel fulfilled and look inward and not care who is looking at you”.
PAT-I too, before my project, would say I was a number one consumer. I always looked for happiness at the end of a shopping line or in the bottom of my Home Goods bag. It wasn’t until I began to truly live and live simply, that my life began to feel real. I began to actually FEEL like a grown up. I always wondered when that magic moment of adulthood would come and I realize it never would had I not done this project because that transition from teen to adult almost does not exist any longer. So, in a way, it is up to we Vintage followers to make it apparent to others that the chores and lessons of Homemaking are not drudgery or ‘work’ or even demeaning, but in fact living and feeling alive in the moment of your life. You can play a video game, such as the sims, where you make up a world with a house and family, or you can simply live your own true life. And you know what? The Graphics are GREAT in real life. They are very lifelike and the experience is very 3-D.
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