Many wish for designer clothes or bags – my biggest wish is for life by design. And may the design be my own.
For almost a year I was working in the department store in Oslo that sells the most expensive and exclusive brands. Lately Norwegians have gotten more interest for the high-end products and Oslo started to develop its own area of luxury shopping. Some years ago these streets were filled with kiosks, small shops and cafes. Now in their place there are all the famous fashion names.
Walking past them every day, I had enough time and opportunity to contemplate about luxury. And I came to conclusion that, for me, luxury is not Louis and Gucci, not flying with a private jet, popping champagne bottles. The greatest luxury for me is to live my life by my terms and rules.
Yesterday we had a literary discussion on our balcony (is there a better way to spend a sunny Sunday?). My man is reading “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind” by Yuval Noah Harari and I am reading “Trust Me: I Am Lying. Confessions of a Media Manipulator” by Ryan Holiday. The image of our intellectual couple – done, check 😉 To be honest, my man prefers newspapers to books, and discussing the property prices – to the literature talks. But yesterday was that day when we were talking about books, yay.
He started telling me the point from the book about agricultural revolution and how its narrative is told to us – positively, but not honestly. We learn that it was good for people to stop running in the woods, looking for food and hunting, and start producing their own crops. But, the book says, while we believe that the people domesticated the soil, it indeed domesticated the people. It made them stay in one place, abandoning their freedom, working hard and getting many new deceases because the body was not built for that lifestyle. The societies got more aggressive too because now they had to fight for the territory and the grain, while hunters and collectors didn’t fight with other small societies because they had no territorial claims: the food was out there for everyone. So was the agricultural revolution good for humans? If evolution means multiplying your DNA, the author says, then it was. But for the individual quality of life it was not good.
The author then draws the line to the modern times and says that we are still enslaved like that agricultural society. We create luxury (as I understand, he talks about mobiles, cars and homes, not the fashion brands) – but we have to work all our life and take loans to be able to afford that luxury. In other words, you have to be domesticated: you have to buy into the general societal program and play by its rules, earning your salary and pension points.
I feel some confidence that the new generation, if it doesn’t get distracted by sensationalism, consumerism and entertainment culture, can create a new wave – and that wave will be about freeing yourself from that kind of slavery. They are doing it already. Minimalism, eco consciousness, private gardening done by serious bearded hipsters. Choosing the retro style and second hand things, choosing vegetarianism over meat, creating freelance jobs. All their popular hashtags: easyliving, greenliving, authenticliving. The generation before them has created the culture of consumerism and stress – the kids now have these values as the departing point for their journey. I believe, they can create something better.
While on the personal level, I am not going to sit around and wait for some revolution. I have experienced three revolutions (and one war) in my country and don’t have great faith in sudden societal turnovers. I want a quiet revolution for myself. Changing my mindset, changing my life – creating it by my own design. Building it around my own values.
I just want to live an interesting life. And I have come to realize that no one will create it for me. If I want it, the creator must be me.
And what would you name as the real luxury for you?