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The Question of Life Style

Posted on Sunday 15th October 2006 at 00:00
Why is it that almost any kind of life style seems better when observed through the eyes of someone who is not living it? Perhaps it is because we tend to romanticise anything we consider to be 'ideal' and in doing so manage to filter out the nitty gritty, day to day routine aspects of life that tend to desensitise us to anything that is good about the experience we are engaged in.

I am currently sat on a soft, comfortable double bed with two large pillows propping up my back, my warm slippers on my feet, soft lighting throughout the room and my laptop on my lap, running off its battery to prevent any cables being drawn across my legs causing me any sort of discomfort. The laptop is using a wireless network and remote desktop control to enable to me to harness the greater computing power and more up to date applications of my desktop PC, running a beta version of the shiny new Windows Vista. I am also using a beta of Office 2007 so that I can write to you using the latest version of Word that Microsoft has to offer.

By some people's definition, and indeed my own this is more or less a 21st Century, technological paradise. Even the grunting and swearing of my large and hairy housemate walking past my door on his way to spread pubic hair all over the loo seat once again cannot detract from the beauty of the scene. The room is warm and clean and tidy; everything is as it should be. Why then am I continually blinded from the sheer joy of being in a situation that could be the centre fold in any life style or technology magazine by the fact that my trousers are a little uncomfortable around the crotch, the washing machine is making an annoying noise as it spins dry a set of bedding, I'm beginning to reach the point where I'll have to readjust my position on the bed to cater for my poor circulation and subsequent pins and needles and the laptop will probably run out of battery and have to be plugged into the mains before long, meaning that I'll be forced to go over to the desk and rummage around in the laptop bag beneath it to find the power lead and then untangle it and locate somewhere to plug it in.

Surely these momentary bouts of slight discomfort are more than outweighed by every aspect of tranquillity and happiness that makes up my current situation, so why am I only able to focus on the bad and not the good? This is a question that has puzzled me over a number of years now with regard to Man kind's general disinclination to enjoy what is good about the world when it is possible to complain about the bad. More recently however I have noticed this problem applying more specifically in the sense that I find many life styles on display to me appealing, even when, in reality I don't or probably wouldn't find them so.

I picked up on this after watching You've Got Mail as I did last night, which for me basically felt like a lifestyle magazine turned into a movie. I came away from it thinking that a)I should use my laptop more to avoid having to sit at my desktop all the time, b)I would absolutely love to live in New York City and c)I'd like to conduct a great deal more of my social life in restaurants , cafes and parks, rather than in people's houses or at uni. All of these things are romanticised in the film to the point that you can't understand why on earth you aren't living out that very dream right this instant.

It took me a few minutes to be able to connect the dream with what I knew would be the reality if ever I were to go down that road. Firstly, the reason why I don't use my laptop more than I do is that it is an arse to keep getting it out of its bag and connected to the network before the battery dies. Secondly, although I've never been there I have every reason to suppose that New York City is as much of a concrete jungle as Bristol and that the noise, fumes, traffic and climate would be totally undesirable to me, just as I found to be the case when I started living in this city. Thirdly, restaurants and cafes are all too expensive to spend any real amount of time in, which is why these movies are spread over a period of several months, and parks too cold and wet to want to sit in for most of the year.

I'm not suggesting that all these dreams are necessarily bad and that every aspect of their reality sucks, merely that no matter how good the dream, in the reality you can't screen out all the creature discomforts, worries and problems that always detract from the enjoyment of the best life style in the world. I guess it was this sort of thinking that gave birth to the old saying: The grass is always greener on the other side.

Perhaps the reason films, books and magazines of this nature exist is so that we can renew the dream within ourselves, even when we are already living that reality, and learn to better appreciate the good things in our lives, even when we have trouble escaping the bad. Dear Reader, before your Sunday ends, take a minute to look around you and really appreciate the things and the people that you have. Do that and you will be grateful for them and all the more joyful for having them, and maybe, if only for a moment, the bad things won't matter anymore.


P.S The laptop battery died on the last sentence.

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