Old Teen Essays
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Article ID: 4761
Age Group: Adult
Posted: October 7th. 2002
By Their Furniture, Ye Shall Know Them
My backside is reminding me of something that I have known for quite some time now: ostentation is not very comfortable. In this particular instance, the offense came in the form of an antique Victorian sofa. The back was ramrod straight, the cushions were taut-spring stiff and -- even if I was somewhat inclined to enjoy a good masochistic lounge upon a bed of fabric-covered concrete as penance for neglecting to change the litter box -- there was no room to fully stretch out for an impromptu afternoon nap. It was a horrid excuse for a 'sitting arrangement' because no matter how I tried to 'arrange' the 'sitting' part of my anatomy upon it, all that I got for my trouble was a sore butt and the aching cheeks that come with trying to smile valiantly through excruciatingly long minutes of posterior pain. I couldn't wait to get out of there. Why in the name of 'Better Homes and Gardens' would anyone want such an abomination in their living room, I can't imagine. But I do have my suspicions.
The first would be that some people don't really enjoy entertaining all that much. Nothing quite discourages the drop-in guest from a leisurely linger quite like the prospect of hours of sofa-related torture. Forget the rack and pincers. A session on that diabolically inspired settee and your visitors will likely never dare darken your doorstep again. Children will hurry past your house -- casting quick furtive glances behind them -- and shuddering deliciously as they go. "They torture people in there, you know!"
"Well, I heard that the moaning ghost of some overeager college student who blundered in pushing magazine subscriptions still haunts the living room." They probably heard that one from me. It seems that investing in certain types of Victorian parlor furniture can insure a real degree of neighborhood notoriety and grudging respect for one's privacy.
The only other reason that I can fathom for filling a room with stuff so inhospitable to human spinal columns is that such things are both antique and expensive. Older is better, and if it is older and recognizably expensive, then there are folks who will want it. And if the objects should cripple a few backs along the way, well.. that's the price to be paid for being fashionable. By all appearances, there really are people out there who truly believe that it is better to look good than to feel good. Or to actually be good for that matter.
By their furniture, ye shall know them.
As I look around our apartment, I can heave a sigh of relief. There is not a period piece on site. Our chairs are overstuffed, cat-clawed and comfortable enough to doze in. Just brush off the fur, pull up an ottoman and sit a spell. You can even fish for the pocket change under the cushions if you'd like. The plates in the kitchen are stacked on the counter and the glasses are perched on top of the refrigerator. The coffee pot has a stack of cups right next to it and with one complete turn, we can grab a cup, pour, open the refrigerator door, get out the milk and be done with it. The things that we use the most often are arranged for our comfort and convenience and not for show. We could care less that someone might find our decor a huge 'fashion don't'. This is our domain, our sacred haven. We live in here, not they, and dammit, we are going to be 24/7 comfortable no matter what anyone else might think of our arrangements.
If I am amazed that some people would live with uncomfortable furniture for the sake of fashion or affectation, I am even more quizzical about people who carry over such trends into their personal and/or spiritual lives. If the wearing of certain ritual trappings, jewelry (or conversely going buck-naked) makes them uncomfortable, why do they still do it? To fit in? To be one of the fashionable crowd? To be recognized as a Pagan Persona of status or a member of the "I Have All the Stuff, So I Must be a Witch" Club?
If long drawn out ceremonies leave you yawning, why do you still keeping going to them -- or doing them? If you happen to possess some Llewellyn books, do you hide them under your bed when certain 'respected' Pagans come to call? Do you find that the current 'Let's bash this Pagan author' game is a bit too nasty for your comfort level, but you join in anyway because it is the latest in-Pagan-thing to do? No matter how much that you wiggle around, chances are good that there is something in the latest issue of 'This is Paganism: Be There or Be Square' that you are not comfortable with. So what are you going to do?
Creating your own domain- your personal space- is important. Living with the things and amongst the people with whom you can be simply yourself is essential to true well-being and happiness. If it seems to you somewhat ridiculous that some people would prefer to live with uncomfortable furniture just because it is older, or showy or recognizably 'in', then how much more would you wonder about people who adopt certain 'Pagan' affectations for the very same reasons?
Well, I probably don't want to sit on their furniture and I certainly wouldn't want to live in their skin. I like being comfortable. I like other people to be comfortable while visiting in my space. I want other people to be comfortable just being who they are around me. I'd like to believe that each and every person who walks a Pagan or Heathen path or follows such a religion is still free to either say yes or say no to whatever the latest Pagan/Heathen trend is according to his or her own comfort level. Fashion be damned.
So spare my butt the Victorian furniture. Mine may not be the oldest or the most trendy or the most ostentatious around, but it is inviting and it suits us just fine. And you can spare me the latest 'Real Witches do this: Real Heathens Do That' line as well. While my particular tradition may be one of the oldest, it is neither a trendy nor an ostentatious one. It certainly wouldn't impress the Pagan fashionably chic trendsetters. My Path, like my furniture, is just simple and honest and altogether practical.
And I am actually quite comfortable with that.
Co-Founder - The Witches' Voice
Monday, October 7th., 2002
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