With Trends Like These, Who Needs Entropy?

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Homeschoolers are notorious for marching to the beat of their own drum, so it should come as no surprise when I announce that if there’s a bandwagon, I stay off it. Right now everyone else is eating quinoa, and I’m happily feeding my family millet, which is just about as comprehensive and nutritious a super-food and far less expensive.

There can be practical advantages to doing the opposite of what everyone else does, such as avoiding rush hour or buying goods at a better price after Christmas rather than on Black Friday. As I am a bit of a free spirit, sometimes just the knowledge that everyone else is doing something is a good indicator to me to do the reverse.

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Of course, the danger of being strictly contrarian is that you’re still being led by trends, only in the opposite direction, much like a helium balloon in a vehicle tilting toward the curve as the car turns. (The reason I know all about the behavior of helium balloons in cars is not because I ever carried one with me on car trips, but because an early physics lesson my father imparted stuck with me: he explained that since helium is lighter than regular air, an enclosed mass of helium—as contained in a balloon—will be pressed up and out of the way when inertia moves the heavier air away from the turn. This led to many hijinks on car trips when approaching a sharp curve. “Let’s be like helium balloons!” Lean!)

Sometimes I accidentally find myself right in the middle of a trend, at which point I sigh, roll my eyes, and acknowledge that some clichés become clichés only because they’re so true. After all, it’s a mere pose of superiority when highbrow elitists sneer at the plebian tastes of the peasants. Heaven forbid I should be a snob.

For instance, one recent trend to which I succumbed was the seemingly universal reading of a particular book about tidying up. I resisted reading it for a long time, but eventually caved and put the book on hold at the library, and when it turned up (after a very, very long wait, because everyone else in the library system also wanted to read it, another very annoying inefficiency of bandwagons), I read it. Well. It was, as everyone else said it was, quirky in some places, but profoundly insightful and inspiring in others. I was inspired.

I couldn’t possibly follow the author’s advice to turn out the contents of an entire room at one time, but I did my best on a smaller scale: I organized my sock drawer, giddily throwing out all the ones with holes and properly organizing those that remained. As for the rest of the house, I was sufficiently fired up to get rid of several things (by which I mean that I moved them downstairs to my “get rid of” pile, to be taken for donation sometime in the near future). I threw away a lot of non-essential memorabilia, and I finally parted with much trivial detritus that I’d stashed away on the “might need this” pretense.

It’s good to restore order and balance by way of austerity. No matter how tidy I try to keep my surroundings, the second law of thermodynamics always catches up with me eventually, as piles of clutter drift across my path with increasing randomness. Our house is apparently not a closed system, at least not sufficiently to prevent the accumulation of matter; therefore, negative changes to the state of matter must periodically occur.

Long before minimalism was trendy, I was already in the habit of divesting myself of superfluous junk in various epidemics of stress-induced frenzies. I just like peace and quiet.

And now minimalism has become a Thing. Welcome to the bandwagon, everyone. I was here first.

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