Three pairs of orange eyes stared me down at work today, tree frogs intent on my every movement. My cat’s eyes were there, too, expectant. The spotted gecko hung lazily while several ladies in wide-brimmed sun hats enjoyed the beach, courtesy of painter Jonathan Green. Exotic flowers bloomed alongside Roman statuary. I could almost smell them.
I’m currently working that famous day job that many creative types hold down, and I do it through a variety of temp assignments in clerical positions. Almost invariably this lands me smack in the middle of a gray fabric cube, its walls surrounding me with a palate of drab functionality. These walls mean business. I use their very practical surfaces to post the reference material I need when I amend files or answer phones. I also use them to hang color, to change my mood. Sitting here amongst the two-dimensional flora and fauna, I am reminded of the beach. Bright colors surround me. I am more productive when I don’t feel the industrial walls clawing at my forehead.
I’m always conscious of this, aware that distressing visuals might sap my strength. Ugly is my kryptonite. I combat its subtle power through the use of modifications. On a short job I might just leave a book with a colorful cover on my desk, while on a longer assignment I hang pictures. Sometimes I’ll buy myself some flowers or bring in a few tiny toys. Every little bit helps, and it’s amazing how much a few postcards or a pink carnation adds to my energy. Something lovely is always better than something merely functional. This is one reason Japanese food is such a luxury—it is yummy as well as artful.
The other night a friend gave me a much-appreciated ride home. It was also a real treat, because he took me in his shiny new Volkswagen Beetle. I’m sure I’ll enthuse at length on this blog about the glories of gorgeous automobiles, but here’s a preview. I’ve wanted to ride in one of these new bugs ever since I saw my first one glide down the highway, and it made my friend’s favor into an experience. How can you not love a car with a flower vase built right in? Why wouldn’t I want to climb into a piece of sculpture? Long live beauty!
Your assignment, should you choose to accept it:
43. Is there some little thing you can do—right now—to make your surroundings prettier? Do it!