Just how critical are you? Of yourself and of things being flung at you? Do you accept things willy-nilly because you believe your life will be made easier by embracing it? And, often, before you know it, you are caught in its escalating quagmire?
What am I on about this week? It’s just that a few of these questions surrounded me over the last week or so. And believe me, I am not advocating that one should over-think all we do but I am also convinced that most of us do not question enough. The ordinary person might think that analysing the latest Stormers game (or Liverpool or Proteas) is as much of a critical perspective they need to have. Others want to indulge in academic debates that really are elaborate masturbation sessions that leave one titillated momentarily, until minutes later when the cupboard is once again bare.
And that is okay, if that is your thing. Perhaps for some of us that is not enough.
And since I always subscribed to the “live and let live” philosophy on life, I am of the opinion that one gives all and sundry a chance to argue their points of view based on their needs and realities. But one should also challenge them if one has a different perspective to offer. Especially if said offering could change or add to what they came into the conversation with, just as theirs might impact yours.
That is the basic tenet of true education: forming new knowledge. Your knowledge plus my knowledge equals new knowledge. And when I say critical analysis I mean self-evaluation as well. In fact, perhaps more self evaluation than anything else – as I maintain this will lead to better relations with our fellow beings.
However, I have of late noticed a certain level of unconsciousness (not sure if this is the right word); perhaps unawareness is a better one; of people and their surrounds. So much so, that knowledge coffers are almost impenetrable. And perhaps that is too simplistic a view, based on the few interactions I had of late, but it seems the level of arrogance or the “I” factor has made of us a more unfathomable mass.
The conversation most indelible in my mind is the one about gift registries and how we have without question accepted them as part of life. Weddings refer: the first assumption is that you will be giving them a gift…then, the assumption that one has to “buy into” the lifestyle that the pair getting married has “suggested” for us. Even if you never buy anything at a ‘Boardman’s’ or an ‘@Home’ for yourself, you now have to go there and get them that item they have chosen for themselves.
All this so that they can give you a plate of food and something to drink on an expensive wine farm with plastic chairs covered by horrible stretchy seat covers, and terracotta-coloured table overlays, and deep orange roses that cost the earth. Then, there are those that state on the invitation to give them “monetary gifts”. So, let me get this right: You want to spend up to R200k for a lavish wedding so that I can help you pick up the tab? After living together for the longest time, and you already have a household that you put together, and now you fear that we might give you another toaster or yet another frying pan?
Where is the surprise in registries? Where is the fun in opening your gifts? All it does is, it shows you up to be a cheapskate if you chose to buy the tea strainer as opposed to the microwave oven.
And those who ask for money…really? Is that not just a more sophisticated form of begging? Just asking…
This nicely brings me back to my initial point about consciousness and consideration. Some people love the idea of a registry as it takes away their need to think about the gift. “I don’t have time to think of gifts, so registries are perfect for me,” says one friend.
I, on the other hand love making time for that. I like giving my close friends who get hitched a very special gift like a picnic basket with hand-picked items for a romantic picnic for two – that often includes a few naughty gifts like body chocolate that they can paint onto, and then lick off, each other.
As it is, life has become so impersonal, with people moving further and further away from one another. Could we not at least try to keep gift-giving personal and make the time to make the people in our lives feel special? Oh, and about the chocolate body paint: if the bride or groom (or both) are a bit on the larger, plumper side of life, replace the little paint brush with a big paint roller for laughable delight…