A Celebration of Beauty (Series 3)
1. A Balneator by Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema (1836–1912)
2. “ Joseph, le nègre “ by Adolphe Brune (French 1802-1875)
3. “ Portrait of a Moorish man seated “ by Karoly Csùzy
4. “The Barber of Suez” by Leon Bonnat (1876)
5. José Silbert (French, 1862-1936) “Le montreur de cacatoè”
6. Ludwig Deutsch “The Inspection” (1883)
7. Moorish Prince (Head of an Algerian), 1897. Elizabeth Nourse (1860-1938)
8. Ludwig Deutsch The Palace Guard (detail)
9. Mariano Fortuny Marsal - Moroccan
10. “Head of a Moor” by José Tapiro y Baro (Spanish, 1830–1913)
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How to romanticize life
Perhaps that has been talked about before (it certainly has been talked about before, but I’ve never seen it implemented towards a romanticization of life specifically).
This thought started once upon a time, when I was seeing many of those posts talking about how to romanticize life, especially when it was not romantic at all to begin with. The thing with these posts that I’ve seen (not a problem, just an observation) is that all of them talk about specific images of romance, rather than talk about how to achieve these. For example, one would talk about “strolling down a wooden area” or “wearing a specific ensemble”, but from my own experience, these actions alone are not enough to properly romanticize one’s life.
And then, after I enjoyed a particularly romantic moment myself (doing the dishes, of all things!), I sat down and wrote about it, wondering why this specific activity (which I usually find myself indifferent to) brought upon me those feelings. And then, it dawned on me.
To romanticize one’s life, it is not about a specific activity, but about the grace, the elegance, we put in any activity we do.
It is about being mindful of the action itself. About deliberate movements we do to achieve that elegance. And, at the root of it all, it is about being in the present.
Elegance is rarely achieved naturally. It is true, some people might appear to us elegant by nature, because of how they talk, how they walk, how they hold themselves, but mostly, elegance is a choice. And it comes in two easy steps.
When someone brings about the image of a long commute on the bus and how wretched that makes one feels (I know, this is a time of pandemic, we avoid the bus when we can, but for the sake of the experiment, let us imagine). It requires a simple shift in posture, to elongate one’s body against the back of the seat, to bring the head a little higher, and to hold onto a phone or a book with care, as if the item is precious (as it should be). And suddenly, the ride becomes romantic. Because, at that moment, your brain shifts from your thoughts (about the ride) to your body. Take a moment to appreciate the fact that your body is now talking to you in places you usually ignore it and look out the window. You are now in a period drama.
2. Slowing down.
One particular movement I can think of that brings about either indifference or complete hatred is this one: putting on a mask before going out/going in a closed space. Well, even that singular moment can become elegant, therefore romantic, with this simple step: when one slows down their movement to put it on. It takes just a couple of seconds, no more than usual, but it demands an attention turned towards the body rather than the mind. Feeling each fingers stretching with the elastic going around the ears, softly pulling the fabric above the nose and under the chin, making those last adjustments before going in. The whole thing takes around 3 seconds. But your brain, in those 3 seconds, is able to override any thoughts you might have had then, and focused on those movements. Take a moment to appreciate hearing your body where you thought it was once quiet. The period drama you are in has multiple episodes.
There are plenty of other small ways to bring more elegance (and romanticism) in one’s life. Taking the time to pronounce our words better, reading a book and clearly hearing all the words in our head, carefully selecting which clothes to wear and feeling their material on the tips of our fingers, choosing a style of writing that is more polished than usual, no matter the language (which I did at the beginning of this post, to prove a point - writing a post on Tumblr is far from romantic, but I made it happen for me anyway and then I got bored because I’m only human and I can romanticize things only up to a point). It does not matter where you are, how much you have, the style you prefer to walk around. It is all about taking the time to feel those actions in our bodies.
Romanticizing life is akin to a meditation. For people who do not like meditating. Think about those period dramas you like (c-dramas count, they’re just as aesthetically pleasing!), think about those youtube video you can’t stop watching (thinking of Bernadette Banner here, as well as Liziqi). They all have that in common. They show us deliberate, carefully chosen images, and those images have a proper posture (no shaky cam) and every movement look somewhat slower so we can properly see what is happening on the screen.
Of course, it is entirely possible to romanticize our lives in retrospect. To think about our week and see all those times life has been romantic, despite us not trying. But true romanticism is lived in the moment. So enjoy it as it lasts.
TL;DR To romanticize something is not about doing certain activities. It is about being present in any actions we take. It is about mindfulness. It is a form of meditation for those who do not like meditating. Being in the body rather than in the mind. As romantic and pleasing as images and ideas are, it really is through the body that we experience the feeling of romanticism.
Now, go forth, and feel the romanticism of your life as it is.
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