synthetic authentic

Month: September, 2012


In our never ending pursuit of “perfection”, we leave behind a trail of discarded ideas and objects deemed “imperfect”.  Oddly enough, I’m drawn to this detritus.  I seem to have an affinity for the slightly soiled.  Maybe it’s because I have come to terms with the inherent futility of perfect, with flaws inevitably springing from yesterday’s perfection because humans are never satisfied.  More likely, it’s a personal identification with the imperfect, realizing that one too falls squarely in that category.


In a world that celebrates faster as better it’s easy to disdain anything slow.  Surely the digital automatic doodad has to be better than its analogue manual predecessor.  And in many situations I wouldn’t argue with this notion.  Word processing on a computer is much to be preferred than pounding on a manual typewriter.  Though I’ve never tried it,  harvesting using a combine seems indubitably better than with a scythe.

But it occurs to me that when freed from the tyranny of productivity and urgency slow is often good.  This seems to be particularly true for anything involving relationships and recreation.  How have you chosen slower in preference to faster today?  


These are my Dacks Black Oxfords I purchased for my wedding.  I babied them for about a year, wearing them only for special occasions.  As they wore in and became even more comfortable I started wearing them all the time, sometimes daily for weeks on end.  When their soles wore out, I had them repaired again and again.  Each time they were restored by the hands of a skilled cobbler they felt like “new” shoes, and yet remained familiar comfortable friends.  Sixteen years on they are coming to the end of their lives.  Sadly Dacks no longer exists having succumbed to changing fashions and troubled markets in 2009.

Why am I writing about my Dacks?  Because they remind me that good things generally aren’t cheap, and cheap things usually aren’t good.  They may have cost the price of two or three pairs of lesser shoes in 1996, but they have outlasted many such pairs over that same period.  And carried me many comfortable miles to boot.


“I have no regrets” said a veteran politician today on announcing his departure from politics after 28 years of public service.  You’ve got to admire anyone who can say that with conviction.  I could barely go 28 days without accumulating a litany of regrets.

Lest this sounds like a criticism, let me be clear that it isn’t.  I have great admiration and appreciation for those who run for public office.  Surely the stress and inconvenience of public life must outweigh any of the perks and even the sense of satisfaction of a job well done.  Politics is a vocation, a calling like teaching and nursing.  And I am very grateful for all those who serve us in these ways.


The number of blogs and books available today on the conjunctive subjects of hoarding and decluttering seems to confirm that our society suffers concomitantly from having too much stuff and knowing how best to deal with this abundance.  It’s a problem to do with the content of our lives, if you will.

While there is disagreement about how to deal with these problems, there is consensus that happiness does not come from amassing more stuff.  Contentment, regarding possessions, comes from being satisfied with what we have, rather than what we lack.

I’m amused by the link between contentment – the state of being satisfyingly “filled up” inside – and the contents of our homes and lives.



In far East Anglian churches, the clasped hands lying long

  Recumbent on sepulchral slabs or effigied in brass

Buttress with prayer this vaulted roof so white and light and strong

  And countless congregations as the generations pass

Join choir and great crowned organ case, in centuries of song

  To praise Eternity contained in Time and coloured glass.

                      John Betjeman – “Sunday Morning, King’s Cambridge”