community, pop culture

Whatever Happened to Feng Shui?

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Do you ever wonder what happened to certain things that were popular years ago, but you suddenly realize, “Hey, we never hear about ______ anymore?”

The other day, for some reason, I thought this about Feng Shui. For those of you who aren’t familiar, it’s an Asian architectural and inner decor method that became popular elsewhere in the late 20th century. Basically, the idea is to arrange your house in the optimal way for garnering good luck and blessings from the universe. The concept hit it big here, probably due to the idea of coercing cosmic good fortune to rain down upon individuals. People started businesses where official Feng Shui consultants would come to your house or company and tell you what to rearrange and how (and most likely charge you a great deal of money for this information).

True Feng Shui is far more complex than I ever felt confident of tackling. (Plus, I’m not sure that having my bathroom perfectly aligned with my chakras will actually ensure getting the job of my dreams). I read a few books on the subject, and the major thing I got out of it was that: A) this is too heavy, dude, and B) materialism isn’t necessarily good for us.

Now I’m not a minimalist; there are certain things I like having plenty of. (Books, for example.) Though I can definitely agree that being focused on acquiring objects is a predominantly Western fixation that may not bring us health and prosperity.

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Part of me really likes the notion of creating your immediate environment to be ultimately soothing and beneficial, not simply functional. This really appeals to my autistic nature, which craves stability, routine, being able to find things quickly, and know what’s going to come at you. And I won’t deny that I love to be organized.

Even if my organization system doesn’t make sense to anybody else. For example, I don’t have a physical to-do list, scribbled on a scrap piece of paper; I have a stack of letters or forms to be filled out, on the top is the one that I need to do first based on its date, and then everything underneath it is also arranged by this same order of importance.

My bookshelves may look like they aren’t arranged in any particular way; but I know that they are, and where to find a title or author. And since they’re my books, and no one besides me will ever need to find something, does it really matter if I can’t explain my reasoning more tangibly than that?

What would Feng Shui have to say about my cavalier attitude towards the placement of objects?

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Maybe in some ways I’m just too practical to really delve into Feng Shui and give it a wholehearted chance. There are many aspects of my life that would make this endeavor an extremely difficult one. My guess is these practices from ancient China weren’t really designed with modern American cul-de-sac residences in mind. Nor is it necessarily possible for me to make sure of things like the “fire” and “water” parts of my house not being too close together; I can’t change where the gas lines and pipes run to.

However, I can absolutely agree that consumerism can get out of control, and that keeping possessions well organized is paramount to maintaining a healthy environment.

This can be a hard practice to keep up in our society.

You tell your kids to get rid of the toys they’re done playing with (and you know they’re done because they haven’t touched said items in over a calendar year). But, but, but, they’ll insist, those objects have such sentimental value, and don’t we always encourage them to form meaningful memories? So you relent…and then wish you hadn’t when Christmas shopping season comes around again — because you’ll realize there are all these new things the kids want…and that will need somewhere to be stored when they tire of them.

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There are always charities and secondhand shops that will happily take these items when you’re finished with them. The system of passing on stuff that no longer works for your family but will for someone else is an excellent one. And we live in the land of garage sales and flea markets, carrying the unofficial motto, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”

If…if you can ever get your family to part with said “trash.”

So, does Feng Shui actually serve a purpose in our culture? Can it be adapted to make our homes and businesses channel more effective and positive energy throughout our lives? Should we even be worrying about it?

And I have to wonder — for a society that was so enamored with this concept just a couple of decades ago, and now it doesn’t really seem to be “a thing”… Does this mean that following trends are more important to us than holding on to something innovative and establishing long-lasting change?

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geekery, pop culture

The Generation Gap

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I’ve started thinking about this a lot. Maybe it’s part of getting older myself, and realizing that so much of the stuff I grew up with simply won’t exist, or will be quite different, for my own children, and wondering where the time has gone (and denying that I’m now “a grown-up”). Maybe it’s an unavoidable fact, since the culture that had been constant for several decades by the time I came of age is now in continual flux, as aspects that had stopped working years back are now in the process of reform; and that so many new things have become an integral part of everyday life in such a short span of time.

Is this is a new phenomenon? The generation gap. Or has it always been this way? In ancient civilizations, when people decided it was necessary to do away with the style of clothing/social manners/cooking/trade/education that their grandparents had supposedly thrived on, did the elders shake their heads and say, “Kids today”?

Whether we’ll ever know that or not, it is a fact in 2018 that the world has changed monumentally in the past decade and a half. When White Fang was a baby, a lot of people didn’t have wi-fi, Smartphones, Kindles, or Netflix in their homes, none of these words had become their own nouns and verbs, and kids were still expected to do the majority of their schoolwork with pencil and paper.

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And one of the most interesting things about all this change is that it isn’t only being embraced by the younger generation. Everybody uses it. Millenials, teenagers, elementary students, 30-somethings, middle-aged; even retirees have blogs and Snapchat and YouTube accounts.

But there is still, most definitely, a generational gap of knowledge and familiarity on certain topics. Have you ever tried explaining to a senior citizen what a meme is? (That’s an experience that’ll make you want to run away to Albania and herd goats, let me tell you.) Or when you think you know all the emojis, but then a brand new set is released by some company you’ve never heard of, and a 6th-grader learns them all in the time it took you to put the wet laundry in the dryer. A couple weeks ago, White Fang and I watched a movie with Arnold Schwartzeneger’s son in the male lead role — and I was suddenly, acutely aware of just how long it’s been since the Terminator first announced, “I’ll be back.”

For the first time in my life, slang that I can’t easily figure out is tossed around in my presence. There are websites people use all the time that I’ve never visited. I have actually caught myself starting sentences with, “When I was your age…”

And I wouldn’t call myself technophobic by any means. Or “out of touch,” or “an old foagie” — especially considering that I’m aware most kids these days don’t even use phrases like that anymore to describe stodgy, stuck-in-their-ways adults. And yet (due to financial constraints in the last several years), the secondhand vehicle my family recently acquired is the first one I’ve ever driven with keyless entry, power windows and locks, a digital clock and thermometer on the dashboard.

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On the other side of the coin, though, my mind can’t help but be boggled at the intensely sluggish pace it’s taking some parts of society to progress. For example: Why the hell isn’t bullying officially listed as a hate crime already? Why have I been needing to explain autism to people for the past 10 years straight? Why did it take until this fall for our school district to get laptops for all the students? How are there still people in the world who haven’t read Harry Potter? Why are people who take an interest in science fiction, graphic novels, comics, and “alt” rock still referred to as “geeks” and “nerds” and sneered at?

Why can’t we get there quicker than the next model of Apple anything?

While I may not be “up” on the all the “new” things (I’m sure some 10-year-old will happily tell me that’s not what people say anymore), I’m open to a lot. And I won’t automatically dismiss something “traditional” or “customary” as “offensive” or “ineffectual.” Too many of the pop culture moments happening right now won’t even be remembered by anybody in another 10 years. Just because something’s “old” doesn’t concretely mean it’s “bad” or “needs to go.”

But, I will still be quite happy when I don’t have to explain what memes, emojis, or apps are.

Or, for that matter, defend autism, Harry Potter, or wanting to own a TARDIS.

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