When Too Much is Just Right

We are taught from childhood that excess is inherently negative. Certainly, as a trained artist, I had a certain version of that idea reinforced throughout my studies. But thankfully in that training, there was also the affirmation that part of the purpose of knowing the rules and boundaries thoroughly, and especially the valid reasons for those having been codified as The Way to Do Things, is so that when we choose to break the rules, cross those bounds, and color outside the lines, we will do so intelligently and with purpose as well.

Otherwise there would be no invention at all.

Imagine if those who developed the magnificent decorative beauties of the art and designs prevailing in Art Nouveau work had always held back and refrained from going a bit beyond the norms, never mind whether any of the magnificently ridiculous extremes of the Baroque and Rococo would have bloomed in the darkness. Think, if you dare, of a world where experimentation and thinking outside the proverbial box were forbidden: would any of the useful, meaningful, and beautiful inventions that save lives and enrich them ever have happened?

This idea can be expressed on a much smaller and more modest scale, too. Why not let our joy in excess sometimes shout its existence for others to bask in its reflected glow!

Over the Top

An iconic sight along the edge of Alki Beach in Seattle, this home has grown, literally, into a garden of earthly delights that we all enjoy as we pass along our ways. Sometimes being ‘over the top’ is the perfect solution.

Expensive Tastes

Digital illustration: The Jeweled WhatsitMy magpie nature challenges me. I don’t see any particular inherent problem with being attracted to shiny objects or distracted by what sparkles and catches my wandering, curious, childlike attention. Most of the time, anyway. But when it comes to how I respond to those attractions and distractions, I think I’m pretty weak-willed. I’m easily enchanted by the handsome and impressive, the glimmering and magical Stuff that catches my eye.

What is complicated is not that I like such things, nor even that I waste many a waking hour on admiring them. It’s when I covet them. When I spend resources more precious than my pining glances on them. When I fill up space in my home, my bank account, or my heart with them that would be far better spent on more substantial things. Love. Sharing. Living.

I hope that recognizing the flimsy character of such tinfoil treasures as most Things are is at least a healthy step toward not letting myself be led too far astray by them. But there is always danger in admiring any sort of tempting prettiness. My inventory of belongings is proof enough, especially when I go about tidying the house and come to the end of the day with boxes or bags full of books, clothes, kitchenwares, electronic devices, decorative objects, or any other kind of trinkets that are no longer so shiny and have fallen not only out of my favor but completely off my memory’s radar. Perhaps what I need to do is to train myself to look at such tempting collectibles as catch my eye with a magical pair of glasses that allows me to see how short their lifespan of use and pleasure will be, and how little the return on time, money, and energy I spend on them can possibly amount to in real terms. My lifetime’s garage sale value must be worlds smaller than what I invested to amass all of the frivolous wonders that ended up in it.

…What was I saying there? I just happened to look out the window as a dazzling butterfly tumbled past, and of course I had to follow it, and then that made me notice something red and glittery off in the distance…