Monday, October 17, 2016

Desire for a New Bag, Prune-Coloured.. . . Or?

We're back in our Bordeaux rental now, where it will be good to sleep more than four nights in a row in the same bed, to have easy access to laundry facilities (we have a washing machine and a drying rack), to grocery shop for, and cook, meals that are a bit easier on our digestive systems. We were so happy to have those days on the road (on the train tracks?), to visit Paris and Berlin as a kick-start to our time away from home, and getting to spend time with our granddaughter and her family was the best. But now some hunkering down time, for a day or two anyway. . . 

And time to catch up on my blogs, both the ones I read and the ones I write. While I'm doing that, going through my impressions of the last week and sorting out what I want to share, I have one post that I wrote a few weeks ago and have just been waiting to click "Publish" on.  (I suspect this is a topic I will come back to, as the visits to Paris and Berlin certainly had the potential to ramp up the desire machine. . . . )


Before I left home, I was reading Rebecca Solnit's A Field Guide to Getting Lost (sadly, I had to return it to the library only half-finished, and with no time to make notes. It's one I'll definitely take out again to spend more time with).

I hope to tell you a bit more about how the book influenced the way I spent the first two, the solo, weeks of this time away, but for now, I just wanted to share this wonderful passage that I'm carrying around. It's helping me think about several things, prime among them the geographic distance that exists between myself and two of my granddaughters (one three or four hours away, if all coordinates optimally; the other a tough day's travel and considerable expense) -- and now, of course, the distance between me and all my grandkids.

But the quotation applies to so much more -- to distance from friends; to the desire for a bigger or smaller or cooler or better-furnished home; the desire for a more interesting or a more status-worthy job.  And particularly, for me as I travel past some of the most drool-worthy fashion-retail windows imaginable, the desire for clothes and shoes and handbags. A desire which is ramped up in so many ways, over and over and insistently over, until it seems only reasonable to meet the desire, to juggle the budget however necessary, to bring a bigger bag to carry the goods home. . . I've been trying to check this response to desire over the last year, and I must say that one good way to do that is to edit the belongings from a house, albeit a small one, so that they fit into an urban condo.

Sometimes, though, reinforcements are needed, and this quotation is exactly the reinforcement I needed. Here it is:

We treat desire as a problem to be solved, address what desire is for and focus on that something and how to acquire it rather than on the nature and the sensation of desire, though often it is the distance between us and the object of desire that fills the space in between with the blue of longing. I wonder sometimes whether with a slight adjustment of perspective it could be cherished as a sensation on its own terms, since it is as inherent to the human condition as blue is to distance? If you can look across the distance without wanting to close it up, if you can own your longing in the same way that you own the beauty of that blue [on the far horizon] that can never be possessed?
For something of this longing will, like the blue of distance, only be relocated, not assuaged, by acquisition and arrival, just as the mountains cease to be blue when you arrive among them and the blue instead tints the next beyond. Somewhere in this is the mystery of why tragedies are more beautiful than comedies and why we take a huge pleasure in the sadness of certain songs and stories. Something is always far away.

And so it was that, having read this quotation, I was able to walk away from the bag I saw a few days before my trip, the bag the deepest colour you'll find in these end-of-season hydrangea blooms.
At least, I resisted it long enough to really think about why I was buying it. I've happily managed with the same M0851 bag for a few years now, and although it's really looking "lived in," let's say charitably, I'm personally pretty happy with the patina. But I'm pretty constrained in what I've packed for this trip, relying mostly on neutrals, and the bag itself is Mushroom/Taupe -- I thought it might make good sense to give a Fall kick to my travel wardrobe. As well, I've never been happy that my current bag doesn't have an exterior pocket -- and because it's deeper than it is wide, I constantly risk caricature territory when I'm searching for something.

So yeah. Justifications and rationalisations abounded. And then this happened. By M0851, in their wonderfully light Aniline Leather, the Hard Handle 10" bag in a seasonal Prune.  Edited to Add: I think this qualifies as what Alyson at That's Not My Age is calling Chic not Shouty bags. I should also add that I mostly wear it with the cross-body strap you don't see here. . . 
Not to worry, though. There's still plenty of blue in the distance for me to resist, still unquenchable desires for me to recognise as such and feel and resist . . . 

And you? Does Solnit's quotation resonate? Are you currently trying to reach a distant blue that will, you know in your heart, only be replaced by another, further horizon? Or, like me, have you temporarily succumbed, assuaging a desire that seems reasonable to satisfy? (in case you're curious, though, and follow me on Instagram, I walked away from the tunic that caught my eye in Rome -- I went in and tried it on, but committed to walking away and giving myself some time to think about whether I really "needed" or even very much wanted it. And I reminded myself about Solnit's quotation, and about my new prune bag, and as I walked away, that tunic took on the deep shimmering blue of an object on the far edges of the horizon. . . 

34 comments:

  1. Nice to have the same time zone,Frances!
    I had to check first what Mo851 is-they have really beautiful stuff and some perfect bags that I like, with no obvious logo. Your bag is among them,I like it,the colour is so deep prune(it seems almost black) that it is both classic and fashionable!
    So,a good decision :-)
    My musings about desire would be only about material things (and certainly not about desire for food,peace or shelter,that's completely another category,although I know exceedingly the desire for peace myself) - living a long period of life when there were a lot of things that were not accessible (or not easy accessible), I see desire as something good,as a feeling that actually add the value to the desired thing (the waiting list for the Birkin bag is also a part of created desire for it)
    So,yes ,I like to have something to desire for :-),something to wait for,planning for trips.....
    Dottoressa

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is fun to be in the same zone as you, yes!
      I'm quite proud of M0851, a Canadian company that, as you say, has really beautiful stuff without an obvious logo -- and at a reasonable price point for the quality. And their labour and eco practices seem pretty decent.
      You are in line with Solnit's thinking, seeing desire as something positive, something worth living in for some time before giving into meeting it. Anticipation!

      Delete
  2. Ahhhh, lovely bag indeed, and prune is a great color. I have been applying the waiting period strategy to acquisitions lately and it does work for me, important as for some reason real estate is my current focus - not much room for impulse or mistakes there!

    ceci

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aha! Real estate? I'm curious about this -- and no, not much room for impulse (although our last home, on the island, was acquired that way, and it was a wonderful impulse to have given into . . .

      Delete
  3. I have been trying to ignore the call to acquire more. At almost 65, I am comfortable in my home, knowing full well that decorating magazines or HGTV could tempt me to undertake some upgrades. Each link on a blog could send me to browser world where the purchase of an item is only a click away. Temptation and desire are everywhere but, right now, I am focussed on creating habits that will
    provide a pleasant and peaceful life in my older age. Certainly, surplus material goods will be a burden as we age. It must be a relief to be back in a familiar bed although I'm sure that you will miss the family experience. I'm at the Writers' Festival today (in the rain). I do find the colour of the hydrangeas rich and beautiful.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm with you -- I could easily be tempted, but I'm working to ignore those siren calls, and I seem to be building some decent defences, building habits, as you say, that will be more likely to bring contentment as I age.
      Thinking of you at the Writers' Festival, and wondering if I need to change my travel schedule so I can be there next fall. . . who are you getting to listen to?

      Delete
  4. There is so much here to think about. I stopped in mid-read and put a library hold on that book so should have it in a few days. I'm thinking about approaches to travelling solo and also am interested in desire/covetousness. I live in a small space and do not like shopping; also am not a fan of 'lifestyle' things that, well, 'reek of effort'. There is a nicer way to put that but I cannot think of what it is. But love, love, to look at/listen to/feel/smell/taste beautiful things...just don't need to own them. (Except the tasting. Good idea to buy before eating.)

    I haven't had a new winter bag for a long time, love that colour and will check out their website. I need something that sits well on the shoulder...cross body is too frustrating combined with a hood or large collar which all my winter coats seem to have, and driving which necessitates bag removal. And, well, Winter is Coming...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm sure you'll enjoy the book. I need to get it out again as soon as I'm home, and I also really want to read her Wanderlust.
      I love the M0851 aniline leather bags because they're so lightweight, but I'm not sure which models might be comfortable as shoulder bags and I know what you mean about the driving and the coats, etc. . . .
      Also know exactly what you mean about the effort (although I don't dislike shopping). . . And I'm working on being able to enjoy without owning, although not always quite there yet. . .

      Delete
  5. I am going to add her book to my hold list at the library. I am lightening up the material goods here in the humble bungalow...a few thrift shop finds have recently been purchased, one is a cognac coloured vintage leather handbag by Due Frattelli. Canadian too.
    The art of persuasion is losing its power over me since I turned 60...but the urge to travel has escalated! I am enjoying your travel snippets and snapshots. It must be wonderful to be able to close the door to your condo and just take off.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A real advantage to having smaller square-footage is that it forces an editing of material goods, right? There's just not room to have too much. Instead, you can plan for travel -- you seem to be firming up your dream of an extended visit to Provence, very cool.
      And yes, it's great to be able to walk away from the condo, not worrying about whether the roof will be leaking in heavy rains while we're away, etc.

      Delete
  6. Yes... there is so much that resonates here and I love Solnit's use of blue to encapsulate that pull. I have been thinking about the particular enjoyment that can be had in holiday browsing goods on sale - clothes, objets, whatever - picking them up, placing them (mentally) in my home life, and then putting them back down again and walking away with only the slightest smidgen of regret because there is just no room for them in the suitcase. All of the delight and very little of the downsides of accumulating more stuff.

    And on this book - I haven't read it but I do have one of her earlier ones (cannot remember the title right now). It came from a charity shop and the front page carries a loving message from John to Claire - 'I just knew you'd love this as much as me'. Not so sure that the pair's desires were quite in tune.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ha! I've been enjoying exactly that -- a few times I've taken photos of desired objects in shop windows, making note of where I saw whatever and how to get back to it. . . and by the next day, the urge was gone -- or at least not strong enough to bother with the hassle of getting back to purchase.
      That's a great anecdote about the book. There's definitely a back story worth imagining there!

      Delete
  7. "To be without some of the things you want is an indispensable part of happiness." - Bertrand Russell

    (Saw that quote posted on Facebook this morning shortly after reading your post. Kismet!)

    ReplyDelete
  8. What a wonderful quote. I must go and find that book! I have been having to resist the urge to act on acquisitive desires recently, for unfortunate reasons out of my control, and although I wouldn't wish the situation on anyone, I'm finding that I'm learning to enjoy/examine the desire itself, if that makes any sense at all!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sorry to hear you're in an unenviable situation, but I'm not surprised you're managing to find some enjoyment simply in puzzling it out (not surprised because I've sensed your strength and wisdom over the years, not because I think it's easy to find enjoyment in tough times!). I know you'll like the book.

      Delete
  9. Interesting! I have been concentrating on decluttering, slowly, over the past few months. Usually when I declutter, deep down I know it is really to make way for new acquisitions (I am talking about charity-shop china, and books here, not Mulberry hand bags and expensive clothes/shoes!) but this time round I feel a change, which I want to encourage myself to maintain. When I see that 'object of desire', I stop, think, mentally place it in my home, or in my wardrobe, and ask myself 'Do I love this enough? Is there a place for it?', before I proceed. I am training myself to enjoy looking, and handling, then leaving well alone. I am succeeding quite well! X

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sometimes, these days, I get the sense that we're not far from arriving at a point where we will have to pay to dispose of all the "stuff" we accumulate, that we will be penalised, as in a Scrabble game, for what we have left at the end, rather than be rewarded for our pile of belongings by a sense of status such as we seem to have held until now. I think your training is very good practice!

      Delete
  10. Oh, yes, this resonates! Wanting things or events or emotions...you really have to question what is the prime mover here. Because often, if you get the chance to actually fulfill the desire, you find it wanes or you can walk away from it. Personally, I have developed the knack now of seeking out the thing, or state or whatever, acknowledging it and - quite frequently - bidding it farewell. Sometimes it is enough. Our lives are crammed enough. I am with Penny on this. It leaves room for the important things.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You wisely extend, as Solnit does in fact, from things to events and emotions. Our wanting is not just for material things. . . And all of those desires are worth exploring for some time before -- or instead of -- satisfying. I like the way Solnit focuses on feeling and living with the desire, as much as rejecting or denying it.

      Delete
  11. I have to read that book! Lovely bag and mitten clap for Buying Canadian (no matter in which of their boutiques you bought it.)

    Just donated a number of items I once "had to have" to Goodwill- really makes you think.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mitten clap! I'm just getting into gloves here -- are you in mittens now? And yes, I know that you are also an M0851 fan -- it feels good to buy a great Canadian product, doesn't it?!
      And yes, it certainly made me think, as we packed up for this house move, donating so much of what I once thought I needed. Embarrassing, really!

      Delete
  12. Frances...I am thankful for this post and your last question. This question, you helped me answer, earlier this year, by sharing the link to your Espedaillac watercolor class. Your question reads..."Are you currently trying to reach a distant blue that will, you know in your heart, only be replaced by another, further horizon? Or, like me, have you temporarily succumbed, assuaging a desire that seems reasonable to satisfy?" Traveling to France for A. Watt/K. Aitken's watercolor class was an amazing experience. Yes, it was very satisfying yet it has also encouraged/challenged me to seek more of this type of creative and expressive experience. It was a win-win on so many counts. Truly, my cup runneth over. Thank you, Frances, for opening this door so that I might learn about that "distant blue". I think Alison called it cerulean (tongue in cheek). :D
    Charlene H.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm so glad you were able to follow that dream, Charlene, and so glad it was so very satisfying. Isn't it wonderful to know that there are still new avenues to wander down, even on our side of 60?!

      Delete
  13. I used to be a material girl but not anymore. Now I drool over cruises and travel brochures.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I haven't completely relinquished my desire for material goods, but like you, travel becomes a bigger and bigger draw. I'm thinking about that desire as well, though, including it as part of the "distant blue" Solnit describes. . .

      Delete
  14. First of all: I love the hydrangea photo. Your post is full of colours: the flowers, the bag(s), the horizon…
    As for material goods, especially clothes, I feel like many of the commenters above.
    Growing older, they attract me less. I never enjoyed shopping as an activity, but I used to feel the need, while travelling, to bring something tangible home with me. Later I found that very often these objects did not carry the memories of enchanted moments into my daily life the way I had hoped them to (although I have to admit tnat some did and still do).
    If I think about what I long for at this moment in life, there are two things. One is (more) creativity (hello Charlene!), which in the end amounts to more time to learn and try out new techniques. I wonder what I am going to feel once I get to that stage, and what will happen to the blue of longing.
    The other thing is travelling: seeing new places as well as going back to places I love and even staying there for some time, the way you are doing in Bordeaux. In German there is a new word for this (coined in the last decade or so) which is “Sehnsuchtsort”, meaning “place of longing”. What will make the blue persist forever in this field, is the fact that I can only go to/ be in one place at a time. Back to Robert Frost again…

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So interesting that you have this neologism in German over the past ten years. . . .I wonder how much it might have to do with migration, with refugees, with globalisation in general. In my field (literature, literary criticism) many conferences internationally and at home have been organised around the notion of Longing and Belonging. . . And I think especially of Jacques Lacan's work which emphasises the foundational place of Lack in our subjectivity. . .
      And Robert Frost, yes, he said a lot in that one verse that you love!
      I like the wave you give to Charlene. . . .and as I understood Solnit, she thinks all these goals of longing, not just for the material things, are worth examining.
      Ah, I need to head to Berlin for another long conversation! ;-)

      Delete
  15. Dear Frances - excuse a small detour from exploring blue horizons (post and comments so interesting!). A few months back in the midst of an equally engaging discussion on later life friendships - a coffee meet-up was planned between two of your readers in Washington DC. We've just recently had our second encounter w plans for a third in the works. First go we checked the time only to discover 3(!) hours had passed in happy getting-to-know you fashion. Remarkable! Maybe not so surprising - as w the tradition of "any friend of ______" - your thoughtful blog posts created a delightful head start and common ground. Thank you! Dorothy & Laurie

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much for letting me know this, Dorothy! I'm so tickled -- and a little bit chuffed, is that allowed? -- to feel as if I've had a part in facilitating a new friendship. Wonderful, these new frontiers. . . .

      Delete
  16. I live my whole life in a state of longing, it seems right. Purple so deep as to be almost black seems like the color of pain we've gotten over, which is the obverse of longing. xox.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And so do we all, at some level, I think, LPC. . . Which ought to teach us something, but never quite does despite the mantras. . . xox

      Delete
  17. Being an adult does mean that one doesn't throw oneself on the floor shrieking and drumming one's heels with desire , every time one's in a boutique .
    But it's hard .
    Breathing deeply and appreciating the beauty and craftsmanship can only carry one so far ...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So far, I haven't shrieked and drummed, but it is tough some days. For example, I just spotted the best pair of loafers . . .
      And I've been thinking about what might be jettisoned from my small case to make room.
      ;-) Thanks for the cold water of reality!

      Delete

I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...