Here is an awkward truth.
Most people who watch Project Runway will go out tomorrow wearing saggy yoga pants. And most copies of Dwell magazine are sitting under a pile of change, lip gloss, and keys.
Most people will never actually bring beauty into their lives; they’ll just fantasize about it.
So here’s what differentiates people who live with style, elegance, and joie de vivre from those who just dream about it:
They’re willing to take tiny, tiny actions.
I personally hate this. I’m much more into big dramatic decisions, shaking my fist at the sky, and winning the lottery.
The universe is clearly broken, because you make a meal and then–seriously?!?!?– you just have to make ANOTHER one! You pay the bills but the next month they are due! Again! You clear out your email and then DingDingDing it just fills back up!
Believe me, if I were in charge, this is not how things would work.
Nonetheless, I haven’t yet figured out how to bend the space-time continuum. We’re stuck with this physical material world that requires WAAAAY more maintenance than I like.
But there’s a flip side.
Here’s a weird thing I never expected: it turns out that even the drudgery of daily life can be kind of fun if you approach it as a ritual of beauty. Even washing the dishes can be mesmerizing and satisfying if you think of it as a pleasurable cleansing ritual. (It helps if you can get a good ironic feminist kick out of being a high priestess of rubber gloves and suds.) Even the simple daily necessity of putting clothes on your body can become a sensual dance of identity and beauty, if you slip a red bra under your gray suit or you wear bright green yoga pants.
You can make your life as beautiful as you want. This isn’t a vague self-help theory; I’ve helped hundreds of women gain traction in the physical world so that they are dwelling in beauty.
You can dwell in beauty even when life is busy and full. It’s an inside job.
Half my friends are really good at getting shit done, burning through their to-do list, and Accomplishing The Impressive Things. But they get to the end of their list and it keeps reproducing! (see above.) So they keep cranking, and they keep wondering, Where’s the part where I get to feel happy and relaxed?
The rest of my friends are more like me; we can go into ecstasies over the night sky or swoon at a gorgeous shade of scarlet, but we can’t balance our checkbooks or keep our papers filed to save our lives. So we may have access to a dreamy kind of bliss, but we’re also confronted with missed deadlines, piles of clutter, and non-dreamy messes.
The truth is, we’re all made of both body and spirit. We’ve got roots in the earth and our arms flung up to the sky. We need to learn to navigate both elements of ourselves. There’s a sweet spot where the physical is taken care of and you’re also awake to the delight of it.
You’re celebrating this evening’s perfect purple twilight. You’re getting down on the floor with your toddler instead of rushing around frantic. You’re telling tales to your beloved over a glass of wine because the bills are already paid and next week’s schedule is already taken care of. The Queen Sweep can help with this, but the true magic is the power of your own gaze. If you can open your eyes just right, you’ll see that the world is dancing its heart out for you.
There is immense joy in this messy sticky tactile world. In its own way, it seems to be loving us as hard as it knows how.
I pointed at some purply-blue pansies the other day and told my friend, “Honey, those pansies are flinging their very best purple love at you. They’re just pansying their hearts out for you!”
She grinned and looked at me like I was from another planet, but I honestly feel this way– that the world is this sumptuous banquet, and our main job is to remember to sit down and eat.