Keep-It-Simple-Stupid Not what you were expecting? ;) During these times, it's all too easy to become overwhelmed by everything happening in the world. Are we just too connected? I've found myself wishing that news arrived days late by snail mail and that emails didn't come every minute of the day. I've been really into period dramas and classic novels as my form of escape since the pandemic started. (Was always a fan of the classics and historical fiction but all this <waves hands around> has just increased my yearning for simpler times.)
In an introduction to Pride and Prejudice (by the one, the only, Jane Austen), Carol Howard writes that What Austen foregrounds throughout the novel is a culture of leisure. In an age when the values of the gentry and aristocracy still prevailed, leisure was understood not only as a respite from labor, as it would have been for those who had to work for a living, but as a way of life that had its own virtues and failings. As in the worlds of classical Greece and Rome so admired by the eighteenth-century society into which Austen was born, a life of leisure at one's country seat - construed as "retirement'" from the daily concerns of commerce and petty political and financial intrigue in London - was considered essential for any gentleman who would take on the responsibilities of disinterested participation in politics and the administration of empire. Especially in the early eighteenth-century of Austen's grandparents, known in poetry as he Augustan Age for its neoclassical values, those who depended on income from other sources than land - that is, commercial or professional interests - would have seemed compromised in their ability to rise above the concern for personal gain to serve the public good. The country gentry, however, whose values were articulated by Lord Bolingbroke and Augustan poets such as Alexander Pope, regarded themselves as being at leisure for virtuous study and reflection, and as having the power to rise above the corruption, favoritism, and factionalism that dominated London politics....In fact, the sorts of leisure activities characters engage in - card playing, dancing, singing, piano playing, walking, conversation, letter writing, reading - may be taken in particular instances to indicate their moral fiber and social inclinations. Generally speaking, the exemplary character is one whose leisure activities imply a willingness to balance private reflection against community-minded sociability. Honestly, it sounds like the time is right for marginal self-improvements when necessary, all for the purpose of feeling more safe and secure, to seek understanding, and to feel more stable in these turbulent times.
Simple is the idea. No need to try to enact big changes. Start with bettering yourself in your inner circle in tangible ways. (All those "activities of leisure" are strikingly SIMPLE!) Read, write, walk, one day at a time.
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