Lately I’ve been noticing a trend, but I’m surely not the first to notice. It started with all the publicity around the movie Julie & Julia, which features Meryl Streep. I wish I could share a well-argued dislike of this actress but I fear I love her just like everyone else does. Meryl plays a (apparently) famous tv-chef whose recipes the before named Julie decides to make. So what, you might think. Aha, here comes the clue. She makes all 524 recipes within a year.
I haven’t seen that movie, but I did read this book: The to-do list, by Mike Gayle. Written in British funny bohemian man-style, this book recounts a man who decides on his 36th birthday that he is going to spend the next year finally doing all those things he never seems to get done. All 1277 of them.
Are you starting to see the trend? I didn’t at this point, I needed two more clues. Just like in the detective the reader always catches on much sooner than the detective.
So next I was looking into saving some money, since I felt I might be out of a job soon. Real good planning to start saving money one month in advance, but hey, I’m still employed now, so who cares. Consuminderen, as it is called in Dutch can be a lifestyle I found. Next to the hundreds of mostly similar tips on the internet, that I already oblige to because of certain neuroses, I also found these people have their own idols. Not the contest obviously, but you know, living examples of the less is more-lifestyle. One book that I want to read some day, but cannot buy because I promised myself I wouldn’t buy any books before I read all the ones I currently own is: Not buying it, by Judith Levine. I know, I can’t buy a book that is about a women who decides not to buy anything but the bare necessities, because I kind of want to do the same as she did. Is that irony? And again she does this for a year. I’m sure you’ve caught on by now.
Then today I read about a woman, Robyn Okrant who did everything Oprah advised her to do for one year, in an effort to become happier. Since Oprah has for a long time been considered an expert on mostly everything. So this woman voted for Obama, although she was in favour of Hillary. Ok… This is when the light bulb appeared over my head.
I think the key word here is: happy. All of the people above were looking for a way to add meaning to their lives. And where we used to become religious and follow a few simple time tested rules, these days that just won’t do. Maybe we can blame the fact that individuality in some minds demands that we all have to be original. So that if you want to change your life, you better do it some way nobody has tried before. And besides, people don’t read your book or your blog if you just decide to be healthy or be nice. So you take some more extreme behaviour, and knowing you couldn’t possible do that your whole life, you do that one thing for a year. And then you blog about it, have it turned into a book, have your 15 minutes of fame, and voilà: your life has meaning.
So, what are you doing next year?