Minimalism and why it doesn’t work

I’ve been seeing a lot of blog posts about ‘Minimalism’ lately, and they’ve been jarring my nerves for a while. Ever since I was a little girl, I was taught to only buy what I indeed needed, and to recycle or give away things which I did not need any more. This, after all, is mere common sense. Yet these days, plain common sense is so rare, that people seem to need to gird it in newer fancy words, and make a fuss over it, in order to distinguish themselves.

Minimalism is a trend which has been slowly infecting our Maltese shores, among others, during the last few years. The precepts of Minimalism embrace the aim of achieving freedom through the voiding of materialistic trappings which are accumulated in relation to a capitalistic-minded society. Originally, the onset of Minimalist per se originated as a term describing visual arts in the post-war Western world of the 1960s and 1070s.

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Personally, as I said, I understand the concept in moderation, however putting an unneeded emphasis on it, not to mention trying to adhere to its more extremist tenets, only ends in showing up that the Minimalist agenda is not only unpractical, but actually going against its own targets. While, of course there’s nothing inherently wrong with owning material possessions, equating one’s own personal value with how much money is in one’s bank account, what car one drives, or what mobile phone one uses, is obviously self-deceiving. This however, is not the issue which is actually tackled by Minimalists, whose main tenet endorses having no more than 100 possessions in total. One could for example, still own and brag about only a few costly items, while having less than 100 ‘things’. So, in actuality, having a few items does not necessarily mean disassociation from the idea of material gratification. Attaching meaning solely to ‘things’ rather than people, personal experiences, or emotions, is the seeming crux of the Minimalist credo, and yet, having chucked all but a few of one’s possessions in the bin, does one really end up forsaking the company of his/her pc, or the fascination of an XBOX (if one keeps one of course), for human contact? Not likely.

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Others maintain that Minimalism targets excess, that it leads to better prioritisation, and that it ultimately leads one to spend less. It advocates discipline and de-cluttering, yet its oppressive regime and illusion of control sees one stressfully trying to get by without certain commodities, which, instead of leading to some kind of transcendental ‘freedom’, actually ends, in many cases, by causing an even bigger backlash of ‘materialism’. Minimalism is anxiety-inducing in that one ends up feeling a failure if one cannot conform to it. Optimising the use of minimal products can lead one to over-technologize one’s lifestyle in a bid to use tools or IT systems which do more with less, leading to the conclusion that Minimalism is a movement targeted towards those who are well-off, and not towards the majority, since it also actually results in more money being spent. Once you chuck something you are keeping in case you might needed it in the bin, you cannot get it back – meaning that you’d have to re-buy the item when you actually do need it. Again, this goes against the aim of ‘spending less’ targeted by Minimalism.

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Yes ultra-capitalism is a sickness. We are not our things. Yet, if the other end of the spectrum offers only extreme austerity promoting a Spartan repressive lifestyle, this is just as detrimental. In the end, human beings need to express themselves, they need to optimize their own style, and feel free to overindulge in moments of tension, in order to be fully at peace with themselves. 

Minimalistic decor can have a therapeutic effect, especially if one suffers from OCD-related problems, however there is an invigorating liberation in a spontaneous carefree use of space. Feeling comfortable and at home in one’s own personal space definitely leads not only to creativity and freedom of expression, but also to a more inspiring and eclectic outlook. Wealth is not how many things you have, or how expensive they were, it is the ability to have options and to be able to fulfill them.

If you want to give more worth to important things, try creating certain tools instead of using mass-marketed ones. Try to jazz up or individualize your space instead of latching onto an easy conformity. Re-use and re-cycle instead of chucking out ‘outdated’ stuff you haven’t looked at in a while. Don’t limit yourself or your options. Instead, embrace a more positive and DIY attitude.

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Clutter and chaos is not something to strive for. On the other hand, living in a wasteland is not conductive to an energetic outlook either. In the end, extremes are not beneficial to anyone. There is nothing as healthy as balance.

A slightly different version of my article was published in the online magazine LivingInMalta.

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Outsider

I don’t know how old I was, when I first became  aware of the bubble.

Crouched in a hollow darkness, I always felt as if I was enclosed in a sphere of shadows. A liquid-like transparent force creating a barrier between me and the rest of the world. In slow motion, I moved within it, out of sync with every one else. Almost matching… almost, but not quite.

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Maybe it was the terror, that harsh violent presence which made me stutter and hesitate, which first created the circular protective barrier. Or maybe it was the cruel indifferent light reflecting off everyone else which first brought it into being. For sure, my awareness of it only strengthened it. My shield. My cage.

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For a time, I believed it had gone. Disappeared with a pop. Finished. For a time, I thought I was here, un-veiled, un-masked, just like everybody else.

Of course, I was wrong.

My bubble is still here. It is dark, dank, comforting. Like an old musty blanket I can clutch around me and slap over my eyes whenever I see something which should not be. I am still here, in a way. But really, I am not. Because I do not want to be. I am not with you. I am not with anyone. And no one is with me. No one looks at me. No one wants to.

In the end, the bubble does not make that much of a difference after all.

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My Secret Fear

Are you afraid of old age?

Ever since I can remember, it was not the thought of death which really terrified me, but of actually growing old. The thought of not having complete control of my body, and not being able to function in a self-sufficient manner, has always been a nightmare. I hate depending on others and being a burden, and the knowledge and certainty that someday, this time will arrive (if I do not die young that is), has always terrified me.

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When I was nineteen, my grandfather, who was a writer, a poet, and a very intelligent man and whom I loved very much – had a stroke. He ended up in a wheel-chair, was not able to move the left side of his body at all, suffered from incontinence, and had to be lugged about, washed, cleaned, and taken care of by his two middle aged children and their spouses in order to survive. Day and night. Every day. For years. He begged us to let him end it. Twice, my mother found he had dragged his wheelchair to the window and was trying, ineffectually, to jump. Since assisted suicide is illegal in Malta, and since we didn’t want to let him go, we aborted his attempts. He suffered immensely for two years. And then, he had another stroke. A worse one, which caused him to actually forget who we were. I don’t even want to go into the agony I felt when my grandpa, who had been so independent, witty, and wise, who had survived the war and taught me to love books, reading and knowledge – didn’t even know who I was.

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Anyways, after four and a half years of terrible pain, my grandpa died. I know that for him, this was a relief.

My grandma, his wife, is currently over 80 years old. She suffers from severe arthritis, can hardly walk, is almost deaf, and blind from one eye due to a botched cataract operation. She is lonely and misses my grandpa a lot. All she does is cry, swallow her pills (she has many of those), and pray. I love my grandma, but I know she is waiting for death. And that terrifies me.

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It terrifies me because when I look at her, I see myself, as I will be, in some fifty or so years. It seems far away now… but time is short and flies quickly… and someday, that part of my life will arrive…

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It does not bear thinking about…

 

Reality vs Fake Airs- Why Write?

I’m not the kind of girl who likes to boast. I don’t play the passive-aggressive card. I don’t like playing the victim in order to get pats on the back. I don’t like putting myself down in public, in order to receive commiserating compliments. I got past all that immature stuff at approximately the age of 15.

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It does not mean that I am emotionless or that I don’t have feelings. On the contrary, it means that I only share what I find worth sharing. Moreover, I only share it with a limited number of people I am close to, and definitely not with social media at large. I’m not that desperate yet.

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Perhaps it could be that I don’t have the unmitigated urge to display all my insecurities and naggy rages because I have, I admit, always been kind of an introvert. Yes, I communicate and share my experiences through writing, but still I  pay attention to get only as personal as I’m comfortable with. Especially if I’m writing something which, I know, many people are going to read. How many intimate sentimental poems have I written? How many embittered and angry short stories, reflecting my moods and my past, have I penned? How many irritated rants about my disgust and dissatisfaction with the human condition at large have I scribbled? No one knows the answer to this question except myself. Mainly because no one has read them – or if they did, it was only one or two people at the most. This is because, when my heart bleeds and my fingernails gauge half-moons of frustration on my palms, I write – I cannot help it – it is the way I vent what I feel and the way I tick. However, just because I write something, actually showing it to someone is something else entirely. 

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I write for myself. I write because I cannot stop. I write because it helps me come to term with reality – ironic as that sounds.

Whether something is floating on a current of social media out there or not, is irrelevant.

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I guess it all depends on whether you prioritize yourself as an individual most, or whether you are more focused on how you appear to others. For me, my internal personal life has always been more important than the way others perceive me, how ‘popular’ I am or what a ‘good’ impression others have of me. In the end, I prefer having some friends who care for me for who I really am, than many acquaintances who might hang out with me for any fake ‘persona’ I might project. At least I know that those who love me, love me. In all my silly, eccentric, weird singularity.

Quoting one of (in my opinion) the greatest fantasy writers of all time:

“My immagination makes me human and makes me a fool; it gives me all the world and exiles me from it.”
Ursula K. Le Guin

Scan Malta – SERIOUSLY, THIS is your Policy?

Like many other Maltese, I find myself constrained to buying my various IT stuff and gadgets from the 5/6 limited outlets present in Malta, and that’s fine (I prefer to get my stuff from abroad most of the time anyways). The problem arises when said outlets have totally CRAPPY policies which actually go against Maltese law.

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This morning a random courier called me on my personal mobile to ask about a delivery to be done at my working place. I knew nothing of this delivery, had not requested the material myself, and did not have anything to do with it since my work has nothing to do with requisitions or procurement. What I wanted to know was how on earth a delivery guy got hold of my personal mobile number to make this call, since it was obvious that he knew I worked here and so someone had obviously leaked it. What’s more, the number was combined with the name of the person who HAD made the requisition, who was definitely not me, and who claimed not to have given anyone my mobile number, since she did not even know it herself. So, why were Scan Computers Malta using my personal details in relation to material ordered by the Ministry I work for??

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I asked the guy at reception to notify me when the courier got here, in order for me to ask him how he had gotten hold of my mobile number without me having given it out. When he arrived, he showed me his timesheet which basically was a list of places where he had to deliver stuff. He called the Scan store and told me to call them myself since they were the ones who could tell me more about the purchase order.

Long story short, when I called Scan it transpired that since once months ago I had personally purchased something and then had it delivered by courier to my place of work, they had then combined the mobile number with the address and saved it, and me, as being the person and number responsible for ALL PURCHASES consigned to this address… SERIOUSLY? So had I been living in a block of flats and another tenant made an order to be delivered to those premises, they would have called me too??? What if the minister had purchased something, would I have been responsible of that as well?? As far as I know, client records everywhere are client-based, that is based on your name + mobile number, not ADDRESS-based!! What about DATA PROTECTION?? Is it legal to give my personal mobile number (which has nothing to do with the ministry but is totally my own) to all and sundry??

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Needless to say, I gave the Scan-person a piece of my mind. She replied that this was their policy and that no one had complained before, which I find VERY hard to believe. Apparently however THIS time round they had encountered someone who DID know Data Protection law, since actually that is my job, so unlike any blandly ignorant Cettina on the street, I DID know my rights as a Maltese citizen, and I DO know that divulging personal data without a person’s knowledge and consent is ILLEGAL.

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I got Scan to delete my stuff from their records and gave them reception’s contact number instead, however the fact remains that their policy is against the law.

If you gave your data to Scan, beware of how they use it. It’s not as safe as you may think.

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For the Bored… and the curious ;-p

Years ago, back when I first started working in an office, I was hooked on personal surveys and questionnaires. Basically I would look out for and search different ones, fill them up, then send them to all my friends for them to fill up and send them on in turn. Irritating huh? Whatever, I was bored ;p

Anyways, just came up across one in a blog I’m following, and I got backlashed by so many memories, i just had to fill it in. Will you? ;p

50 questions 50 answers.

Work clothes – black trousers and red jumper with a red and black scarf

2: Ever been in love? Yes

3: Ever had a terrible breakup? Yes

4: How tall are you? Around 5’5/6 i think

5: How much do you weigh? no idea… i try not to look at the scales

6: Any tattoos? yes, 3… and more to come!

7: Any piercings? 5 in my right ear, one in the left

8: Ever done an operation? Yes laser surgery, and partial toe nail removal

9: Favorite show? there are too many, don’t think i actually have one fav

10: Favorite bands? Evanescence, Within Temptation, Nightwish, Kamelot, and many other Gothic, Melodic and Harmonic Metal bands

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11: Something you miss? right now… bed

12: Favorite song? JMy Immortal – Evanescence

13: How old are you? 29

14: Zodiac sign? Saggitarius

15: Qualities you look for most in a partner? honesty, trustworthiness, intelligence and kindness

16: Favorite Quote? The fight is not over until you have won it – Robin Hobb

17: Favorite actor? Johnny Depp

18: Favorite color? Black and/or dark red

19: Loud music or soft?depends on my mood

20: Where do you go when you’re sad? To bed or near the sea

21: How long does it take you to shower? Around 10 mins

22: How long does it take you to get ready in the morning? 15 to 30 mins

23: Ever been in a physical fight? yes though not by choice

24: Turn on? Black leather and long hair

25: Turn off? Arrogance and stupidity

26: The reason I made this blog? To write more

27: Fears? Getting pregnant, being trapped, heights

28: Last thing that made you cry? Dont remember

29: Last time you said you loved someone? Last night

30: Meaning behind your blog Name? ‘Moonsong’ has always been my screen name and ‘Darkly Dreaming’ is inspired by the first novel in the ‘Dexter’ series

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31: Last book you read? The Born Queen – Greg Keyes

32: The book you’re currently reading? Since I finished the last one this morning, nothing yet ;p

33: Last show you watched? One Foot in the Grave

34: Last person you talked to? A collegue

35: The relationship between you and the person you last texted? my bf

36: Favorite food? pizza and tortellini with white sauce

Ricotta Tortellini with white sauce

37: Place you want to visit? there are so many! the whole world!!

38: Last place you were? home

39: Do you have a crush? I have a love ;p

41: Last time you were insulted? weekend before last -.-

42: Favorite flavor of sweet? orange

43: What instruments do you play? used to play piano a bit

44: Favorite piece of jewelry? my pentacle silver ring

45: Last sport you played? volleyball at school lol

46: Last song you sang? something yesterday while i showered, dont remember what

47: Favorite chat up line? I don’t like chatup lines, they’re cheesy.

48: Have you ever used it? nope

49: Last time you hung out with anyone? yest with my bf

50: Who should answer these questions next? Everyone who reads them!!

Happy Reading 1