Angelia McLean: Country Mouse City Mouse 1-16-12
January 16, 2012
New year new you! Get organized this year! Set goals for the new year! New year, healthier you! Start the new year right! Blah, Blah, Blah. Why do we see every year these same inane, cheesy titled articles that eventually become more empty slogans like “How to stick to your resolutions,” “Why people fail with their resolutions” or “How to reach your new year goals!” Even when some of us are self proclaimed non-resolution makers, we secretly live in fear that we’re missing something. I admit, I thought perhaps I could start the year and force myself into the stick-to-it-ness of a resolution of not using foul language over imbecilic drivers on our streets. Alas, I blew it on day one.
January is also the time that editors bring out the “get your life in order” mantra. You see it, I’m sure, standing in the grocery store line with the junk food that you weren’t going to buy because of a healthy eating resolution and glaring at you is the image of happily organized mom of 17 who has figured it all out and she’ll tell you all about it if you just buy this magazine. Lucky her.
Simplify your life! Do you know how many experts out there who can tell you how to simplify your life? As if that is your problem? What does that exactly mean? Abandon your kids? Add a drain to the middle of the living room so you can just hose it all down for cleaning? Throw away your dirty clothes and just buy new? Or maybe just set up a feeding trough for dinners (mmm … note to self).
I have joyously continued on my merry way of making my life more complicated. I’m not complaining, it is exactly what I’ve decided to do and I take full responsibility. I am a collector. I have never thrown away a letter or card, ticket stub, or postcard. I have collections of ceramic Madonnas, plastic horses, robots, marionettes, mannequins, bears, dolls, Kermit the frogs, hankies, boxes, Christmas ephemera, books, magazines, fairies, cameras, depression glass and believe it or not, wait for it, my kids baby teeth. Dusting is problematic. I can’t imagine getting old and downsizing since I’m still buying from those that are currently aging and downsizing. My motley crew of pets is sort of a collection and makes life very complicated.
Chickens in the city really messes things up and having a collection of four children also puts simplifying your life to shame. Sometimes as I scour the antique stores, I wonder if my things will end up here. I imagine with naive, rose-colored glasses that my grand kids have all my stuff lovingly displayed and fondly recalled but most likely it all sold for college tuition.
Traditionally, for me, New Years was a day to rearrange and reorganize my clutter. Unfortunately it also means that now I don’t know where anything is.
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Country life isn’t simple either and I don’t know why there is a multitude of expressions and publications intimating that somehow, living in the county is easy, lacking clutter and easy as pie. The dairy farm across the road from where I grew up had 10 children. Some of my schoolmates had families of 12 and over. I’m sure these moms were not beating themselves over the head for not having her kids’ Legos color-coordinated in the respective bins. I had been in some of these farm houses too and quaint, simple country living it was not. Nor do I believe there are ranchers and farmers that have time to come up with a new year’s resolution let alone stick to it. The Farmer’s Almanac tells the origins of new year resolutions and it was the Babylonians who, in 2000 B.C.E had a popular one; resolve to return borrowed farm equipment. But then again, didn’t they just sit around eating peeled grapes anyway? Now if only I could get my kids to resolve returning my scissors.
City people, country people, we probably all just want to have a fresh start and to each individual this is personal and dependent on how we chose to live our lives. January may be the best time for personal reflection and a planning for the future. Life is just a tiny bit slower and a little bit less scheduled. Although imagining that somehow some promise to oneself or the goal that a simple life will solve all one’s problems is perhaps the pickle. So, embrace your clutter, reward yourself with chocolate and keep it complicated. It is what living is all about. Enjoy your 2012 ride!