Design and style are fickle, quirky concepts. On one hand, some of them are based mainly on impulsive flash and pizazz; while, on the other hand, some are primarily utilitarian. These traits apply to stuff and to current modes of thought–Zeitgeist.
There is a spectrum between over-the-top fancy and spartan utilitarian. We base our personal style somewhere between the two. This applies to our taste in material things and to the way we form our opinions about life. A person may want a Lamborghini SUV but actually require a cheap, rugged truck to haul stuff. The choice depends upon why she or he wants a vehicle in the first place. Is it primarily to show off or is it needed to carry large items from place to place? Depending upon what the person can afford, she or he will make a compromise between the two extremes.
When we ponder the topic of knowledge, we notice that how people think goes in and out of style, too. On the spectrum of tradition to cutting edge philosophy, we mentally fall somewhere in-between. We also may fluctuate between the two as we lose our ignorance about important aspects of living. Are we attached to the comfort zone or do we hanker after exploring mental frontiers? Again, we fall somewhere between the two because this suits our current modes of living.
I often lean towards pie-in-the-sky idealism. My fantasies about society trend towards egalitarian, fair social structures. Somewhere in those thoughts there is the reminder that Utopia has a dark side. Requiring all people to conform to my personal concept of a perfect world does not align with other people’s concepts of social integrity. Utopia’s dark side includes conformity to ideals.
In the back of my mind, is the mental equivalent of a monk’s cell. Austere, practical philosophy is very appealing. Could I carry such thinking into a lifestyle of stark minimalism? I could probably do so for awhile, or out of economic necessity, but eventually, I’d want to alter the mental wall with a cheerful shade of epicurianism and do some decorating of my mental hermitage.
While it is fun to acquire a few antiques, I don’t want my home to resemble a museum nor a shrine to bygone times. As much as I admire Art Deco style, the 1920s and 1930s are historical times I do not wish to emulate. The thinking of those times was tragically old-fashioned to suit the 2020s. Substance over style wins the day.
Taste in clothing has hints of tradition and practicality, such as a preference for blue jeans. I do like to slightly step up the game when it comes to shirts, shoes, and accessories. Those things are contemporarily understated, yet reveal my mental style of thinking–practical with a hint of daring. There is just enough conformity so as to not feel eccentric or out of place. One could say this style is mindfully balanced.
I strive to keep my mental garments up to date, as well. There is enough stoicism and Zen to guide my decision making. These are balanced with a strong instinctive drive to explore modern conceptualizing and philosophies. One should be careful not to discard the traditional, practical “mental blue jeans” that feel comfortable, which are constructed of sturdy ethics and kindness. An aversion to sanctimony helps keep the mind from becoming cluttered and constrained. Of course, these are ideals towards which I aspire. The truth is, that I’m probably a lot like everyone else who has plenty of room for practical improvement.
The modern, yet practical approach seems most auspicious. Keep vices at a minimum without acting high and mighty. Aim for wisdom and humility without humble-bragging. Feeling gratitude for what “fate” has assigned to me physically and mentally instead of what it has denied to me. This seems to be the most practical way of thinking, at least for now.
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes 20th century editor, literary critic, novelist, playwright, and poet, Paul Engle. “Without vision, you don’t see; and without practicality, the bills don’t get paid.”