In the midst of a major spring clean (or would it be a winter clean?), it dawned on me how much clutter we accumulate throughout the years. From ten-year-old receipts to nostalgic memoirs of the past, to photographs of long-lost pets and tattered love letters of individuals who have long been absent from our lives…clutter seems to constantly pile up and manage to hide itself in secret drawers, until one day, the mere knowledge of its presence is utterly suffocating.
This burst of de-cluttering was partly inspired by Gretchen Rubin’s self-help book ‘The Happiness Project’ – a book particularly apt for this time of year when the concept of resolutions is practically shoved down our throats. But while resolutions are fine (if you can keep them, that is), Rubin attempts to dedicate a year to discovering the true meaning of happiness and implementing monthly goals that, while not being overly monumental in an Eat, Pray, Love way, incrementally lead to a better attitude towards life in general. At least, that is the aim of the book.
The first thing that Rubin did was to carry out a major de-cluttering campaign in her house….and that really made me reflect on my own clutter. As soon as I started de-cluttering, in spite of the initial gasp at the humongous task ahead, a sense of relief swept over me. It almost felt cathartic – as if the outside de-cluttering was having some effect on a holistic level. This, in turn, led to a major reflection on whether in reality, I was truly de-cluttering the negative thoughts and the toxic people in my life, or whether like the hundreds of things that I found carelessly piled in my drawers, I was still clinging on to them. Furthermore, I found myself questioning if, on the other hand, I was still lovingly feeding the black dog of self-victimization growling sulkily in a corner…
I am not sure whether or not I believe in the myth of New Year resolutions. However, one thing is for sure: as we’re fast approaching the new year, I will try my best to think twice before purchasing anything (challenging the odds of targeted digital marketing), and will also do my very best to think of alternative ways of gifting – with an effort to opt for the immaterial or the sustainable. On a more personal level, I really should remind myself to take that black dog out for a walk more often, and teach it a trick or two. Who knows, maybe by time, it will learn not to take life too seriously after all…
In an age of sheer capitalism, Instagram filters, and depressing global news stories, it seems as if the mystique surrounding Christmas has vanished, or so methinks.
I fondly remember the excitement I used to feel when I was a little girl during the Christmas period. Ecstatically, I used to wait for Santa Claus to deliver the gifts that I would eventually find lying in a neat pile beneath the Christmas tree, leaving milk and cookies the night before to help in the cause of sustaining his journey (not checking on a search engine whether Santa’s lactose or gluten intolerant). Sometimes, I used to stay up all night ruminating in my bed about the fantastical possibility of Santa travelling all over the globe in one night, and trying to logistically reason out how he could do such a thing; why poverty still exists even though Santa is supposed to deliver presents to every child in every country….and the like. In the end, I used to console myself that all this can be explained via one term: magic.
It is this same ‘magic’ that seems to slowly disappear once you start growing up and tiptoeing into the so-called ‘adult’ world. In the age of social media, with all the pluralistic possibilities presented to us by new technologies, the belief in the supernatural wanes in favour of instantly gratifying the ego by ‘likes’, ‘retweets’ and ‘face tuning’. The imagination is geared towards capitalistic ends, while dissatisfaction breeds more consumerism.
While it can be argued that the character of Santa Claus has long been used to serve capitalistic purposes, I am still a believer in using the image of Santa Claus to project a more altruistic cause. Why can’t we be a Santa Claus to each other by providing the gift of empathy to a friend who might be passing through a rough patch in life? Why can’t we be a Santa Claus by smiling to a stranger stuck in morning traffic, instead of flipping them off? Why can’t we be a Santa Claus to our own minds by giving ourselves more time to truly take care of our mental well-being and indulge in necessary self-care? Why can’t we be a Santa Claus to our own bodies by stopping the cycle of self-criticism and deleting our social media accounts every now and then?
This Christmas, I truly propose that we all regain the magic that we have lost due to the turbulence of life, and really use this period to be a bit kinder to our fellow human-beings, and most importantly, to ourselves. As simple or campy as this may sound, this everyday kind of magic might truly be the key to overcoming the expectations society imposes on us during the holiday period, and instead be our very own Santa in determining the journey of our own personal lives.