Walkabouts and wonders

"A life not examined is a life not lived" – Socrates

IKEA lament

Great, aren’t they? Ikea stores. Simple, convenient, affordable. So, why do I feel slightly uneasy about them? Is it just because of being a single male of the species- that I just automatically dismiss household shops? I mean, it’s not very honest – the desk I am working at, the bookshelves behind me and downstairs, the bed I sleep in and the pans I use for ccoking have that stamp of Scandinavian quality on them.

So, Harries, what’s the problem? Is it that I have tried and failed too many times to find a shortcut from the bedroom section to the market hall? Or wound up dismantling and re-assembling too many items where I misread the instructions (including the said bed). Or, experienced my manly decisiveness failing in the face of a girl-friend’s sweet and reasonable comment on how much better that rug will look on my living room floor than the one I have kept with me through twenty years, three previous houses and three and a half previous girl-friends (don’t ask)? Or is it perhaps the dawning realisation that, whereas I (like all people) have multiple and unique gifts of individual creativity and practicality, I am persuaded to express my individuality through a combination of objects that have been artfully made and mass-produced to the design sensibilities of some-one else?

Or maybe, I just need to get over myself, stop worrying and enjoy life.

But while I try to do that, I genuinely don’t really understand this – we are blessed with the best education and widest range of opportunity and freedom for self-expression in recorded history, yet we are surrounded by the products of mass-produced commercial designs, music, entertainments and even foods. Does it matter that we compose our lives in this way? Are we missing something in using so little of our time to experiment and make things for ourselves? Or is it better that we each enjoy the wider choice of well made goods and services that modern economies provide in such abundance and excellence?

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