Saturday, September 1, 2007

It's Not How Good You Are...

I'm ashamed to admit that I was shopping at Urban Outfitters tonight. I found my favorite t-shirt there, and ever since then I find myself uncomfortably looking through the other clothing there, wondering if I might look good (or, perhaps, younger) in an Atari t-shirt and a pair of Converse All-Stars. The answer is, absolutely not.

But there's something a little too canned about the whole UO thing, isn't there? Like Pottery Barn, or, scarier yet, Hot Topic, it seems like the idea is to walk in and buy a complete life, kitschy accessories and all. But, like the silk calla lilies permanently frozen in clear plastic resin-filled vases at Restoration Hardware, it only appears authentic from a distance. People should own ratty t-shirts, made that way from years of wear. We naturally amass small collections of curios from the places we visit. Pablo Neruda, in his poem entitled "Ode to Things," wrote,
I have a crazy,
crazy love of things.
I like pliers,
and scissors.
I love
and bowls –
not to speak, or course,
of hats.
I love
all things,
not just
the grandest,
small –
and flower vases.

and later:

many things conspired
to tell me the whole story.
Not only did they touch me,
or my hand touched them:
they were
so close
that they were a part
of my being,
they were so alive with me
that they lived half my life
and will die half my death.
But it seems wrong to have a supplier (or "outfitter") for these items. I believe many of these stores are, more accurately, suburban outfitters.

But, as I stood there, sifting through brand new items that were designed to look broken-in, I found a book called "It's Not How Good You Are, It's How Good You Want to Be," in which the following phrase appears: "You must develop a complete disregard for where your abilities end," and "failures and false starts are a precondition of success."

It's a good book. It's filled with all sorts of different ways of thinking about things. I'm considering adopting a few of its tenets. I'm hoping it will lead me to feel better about the fact that I bought and enjoyed a self-help book from Urban Outfitters.

No comments: