“Luxury is not a necessity to me, but beautiful and good things are” – Anais Nin
I absolutely love this quote because I feel like it gives me permission to really enjoy the things I have around me. It sounds silly, but I actually felt a huge sigh of relief when I first read it – the separation of luxuries from the beautiful and good things in life was helpful to me.
Sometimes I can feel really guilty about having and wanting stuff. I work in an environment where I am constantly challenged – and rightly so – about how I spend money and my sense of entitlement to a certain lifestyle. It’s a great and necessary challenge, but sometimes I get caught up in it all and feel guilty about not being a hippie. Sometimes I chase after luxuries expecting them to make me happy and this phrase brings me back to the realisation that they wont – that they’re not what I’m supposed to be pursuing. They might make me more comfortable…but that’s quite different and more often than not comfortable doesn’t do me any good.
Luxury isn’t a necessity in life. It can’t be, the majority of the world doesn’t live in luxury. We don’t need it, it’s just that our culture keeps telling us that we deserve it and we’ve all got caught up in the notion. We’ve made luxury a sign of success, which feels somewhat misguided and unhelpful.
But…beautiful and good things are a necessity in life; we need them. They lead us towards worship, hope, creativity and joy; they’re a reminder that the world was created “good” and was created to be enjoyed. When I’ve had a tough week, I sometimes go and spend some time looking after two little girls who are pretty much an extension of my family. I promise you, in the space of about fifteen minutes their laughter, innocence, childish observations and enjoyment of life have already changed my perspective. They are crazy and mischievous, but they are beautiful and good and I love that they’re in my life. The same thing happens when I’m on walks in Richmond Park, flying over mountains and rivers, watching the sunset, connecting with good friends, or painting and creating things at home. Encountering beauty and joining in with creativity recalibrates me and connects me with God, it’s like my heart resonates with the glimpse of a restored world and something inside instinctively knows and is reassured that we were made for more than what we see right now.
I’ve had a determination over the last little while to “choose joy”. It has to be said that the choice factor was a bit of a revelation to me. Repeatedly choosing joy when the circumstances naturally make you feel otherwise is hard and I realised that it wasn’t going to be a case of mind over matter…as my mind simply isn’t always that strong! I would have to choose actions and behaviours that would cultivate joy; I was going to need to be proactive and create a rhythm in my life.
And so I came back to the celebration of beautiful and good things, because they encourage joy in me.
I wanted to create space – both in my mind and physically – to celebrate and appreciate beautiful and good things and let them soften and inspire me. So welcome to the beginning of my lovely wall (or real life version of pinterest!)…
I’ve decided to dedicate a little area of my house to pinning up things that inspire and encourage me; quotes, photos, images and other such things that will remind me each time I look at them that no matter what darkness or challenge I encounter, this world was created “good” and restoration is happening all over the place, there are whispers all around the world of beauty and goodness – I just need to keep my eyes open.