Life choices


A few random thoughts for a Thursday, for no reason other than this is what I woke up thinking this morning.

1) If people could choose their shape without having to concern themselves about diet and exercise, what shape would most choose? What would be desirable if it could be achieved without effort?

I am wondering how much the beauty industry relies on those who are slim feeling superior. I know that perceived beauty does not equate to self confidence, but I do think that those who manage to stay slim feel that they have succeeded where the more rotund have failed. If all could choose their shape, then would most women choose to be the extremely slim shape that is currently sold as desirable? Would most men choose the supposedly attractive muscular torso? We can choose the clothes that we wear, and use this to conform to societal expectations or not. We use dress to express our individuality, or to fit in with the expected codes and fashions. If we could easily choose our body shape it would be interesting to see what choices were made. Things that do not cost, be it time, effort or money, are rarely as highly valued.

2) If people could choose, once only, to stop their body looking older, then at what age would they choose to stop? Given that they would continue to age inside, would an outward display of youth be desirable?

I doubt that many would choose to look five or ten or even fifteen years old for the rest of their lives. What about twenty though, or thirty? Would most truly wish to remain looking young?

I am well into middle age and have found a certain freedom in my changing looks that I had not expected. I have attained a sort of invisibility, no longer seen as desirable by the opposite sex or in competition with my own. I have had my career and I have had my kids. The pressure to succeed has been lifted and I am left with only myself and my loved ones to please. I am of little interest to the rest.

I am no longer bothered by sexist fools who think they flatter me by cat calling or attempting to chat me up. I feel safe when I go out alone, there but overlooked. It is empowering, exciting and a little daunting to have no expectations to meet. This is not to say that I am always comfortable in my own skin. When I am out with my children I dread running into their friends in case the way I look embarrasses them. On my own, however, I can relax. I merge with the background; there but of no particular interest to anyone.

There is still plenty that I wish to achieve in this life but I am now doing it solely for me. It seems that growing older suits me; stopping the clock on my looks would have lost me not just this freedom, but a valuable life lesson. Time travel can be as interesting and educational as exploring new places and cultures.

If all could look young there would be issues with couplings. We respond to looks in choosing a mate. Ageing is there for a reason; without it I believe some would feel deceived.

3) When you think of success, what level of success do you dream of?

I like the idea of being the author of a traditionally published book. As I have yet to write anything that could be submitted for publication this is unlikely to happen. If I did though, I wonder if I would really want success. Of course, I love the idea of being widely read, assuming readers liked my writing that is. I have a pipe dream of seeing my book in a bookshop. Financial independence would be pleasing but to achieve that level of success, which is rare even amongst published authors, there is a cost that I know I would struggle with.

I would dread having to stand up in front of people to promote my book, to give talks or appear in the media. I feel no great need to impress the world, what I would like is to impress my little family. I suspect that they are the least likely to admire anything I could produce. Even if I achieved the perceived success of a best selling author my husband would probably criticise the quality and worth of my writing.

Given the number of people who queue up to audition for televised talent shows there are plenty of people out there who seek even momentary fame. Given the efforts that sports men and women put into improving their rankings there are plenty who crave short term success. Would all of these people be willing to suffer the costs though, the life not lived due to the pressure, intrusion and demands of fame?

I think that I would be happier with a small and quiet success, whatever that word actually means.




Hype and choice

What is it that makes something fun? The 50th Anniversary of Doctor Who was much hyped, drawing fans and those with just a passing interest together into anticipation of a big event. Perhaps some had rose coloured, childhood memories of the show; others may have believed that this episode was going to be as truly special as the build up made out. I suspect a fair few will have watched it just so that they didn’t feel they were missing out on something that would subsequently be discussed. The potential for disappointment was high.

And now there are those who are complaining; I do not understand why they feel so hard done by. This is a kids television show. Sure, it has a lot of fans of all ages, but it is still a kids show. Did the kids enjoy it? Mine certainly did, and I thought it was well done.

The true fans will watch it and watch it again and again, seeking out the myriad of potential meanings, the nuances, the references to plot lines from episodes past and potential for future development. They will discuss and dissect on their forums and blogs, exchanging theories and guessing at what may be to come. They will probably enjoy this subsequent activity at least as much as watching the episode itself.

When an event is hyped it can be hard to ignore but we do have that choice. I have no interest in sport so, when the Olympics came to nearby London, I took no notice. I was happy to see friend’s delight as they obtained tickets to even the obscure events just to be a part of it all. They talked of a once in a lifetime opportunity, not to be missed. I chose to miss it because I had no interest; there were some who saw this as a flaw in me, they felt I should be supporting those who had worked so hard to get there.

I can understand the benefits from such events. It is like a huge party, a chance for sharing with strangers as well as friends. It is not obligatory to take part though. I would not wish to rain on anybody’s parade but sometimes I simply do not wish to attend. Those who have worked so hard to get there will have devoted a large chunk of their lives to doing so. I question how worthwhile that is, to devote so much time and effort to a transitory achievement. Of course I can see that it is an achievement. Going for that goal is their choice, just as it is the spectator’s choice to cheer them on, and mine to let it all pass me by.

My daughter went to the cinema with friends last night to watch The Day of the Doctor. It was an excuse for an enjoyable night out. As a family we chose to get involved in the build up, following the many interviews and trailers, watching several of the shows made specially, before the main episode aired. We enjoyed being a part of this. Having such fun is good, however insignificant an event may be in the grand scheme of things.

We are each free to choose which parties we attend. I have no interest in royal weddings, anniversaries or babies. I have no interest in sport, televised competitions or reality shows. I wish the people involved no ill will, but do not wish to join in, even when their celebrations are hyped and prove popular.

When a TV show or a film franchise offers an excuse to create a virtual gathering then I may decide to join that. It is a little bit of light hearted distraction from the routine of life, nothing serious. Whether or not the episode or film itself is any good is almost irrelevant if the build up and taking part is enjoyed.

Events of substance can bring us down. The serious matters to be considered in the world around can exhaust and depress as they are so hard to influence and change. From time to time getting involved in something frivolous can be a good thing, but I will not take these things too seriously. I will not complain of disappointment if a much hyped event that I chose to take notice of does not deliver whatever it was that I expected.

I wonder what the next big thing will be and if it will capture my imagination and draw me in. It can be enjoyable to join in the excitement with those who are like minded. Fun, but not important, not obligatory.

I will not criticise this Doctor or that Doctor for not portraying the character as I may wish. The show works because each reincarnation is different, and each has it’s own loyal following. Some episodes may be stronger than others but the franchise remains popular, there are still plenty who enjoy it. Isn’t that what entertainment is all about?

To those who feel let down that Doctor Who is not as they would wish remember, you can choose not to pay attention.