The Chill factor

The Chill factor

The Question: Is anyone really as chilled out as they appear to be?

This is not a question of cool, cool is something altogether different, but perhaps some answers can be found to the mysteries of cool within the enigma of chilled.

In the foot hills of the Pyrenees hidden in the lush green valleys of the Ariege, there lies a successful market town. The market town seems to be populated with chilled out hippy types all dressed in home spun, tie dyed cotton t-shirts, purple trousers and straw hats. Their faces are adorned with various piercings, their hair long and matted; tattoos decorate necks and arms and backs: and a roll up lists lethargically from almost every lip.

Why there is a cluster of such ‘alternative’ people here in particular is not as random as one might first think. You see the Ariege department of France offers the perfect climate for the cultivation of Marijuana – so I’m told – and it’s this particular herb that attracts so many laid back types; that and the extremely unlikely chance of ever finding a job.

These anarchists shun consumerism, hate the trappings of capitalism and believe in another way. You don’t have to follow your parents onto the treadmill; you can live just as happily, if not happier with less. Which is fine, I have no beef with such folk, good luck to them I say. As long as you manage to be good parents to your offspring, manage to put enough food on the floor for not just them but all your dogs too, then that’s just great. Happiness – I’m informed- cannot be measured in bank notes.

Only…..well ok I’ll say it – it’s a bit of a niggle- are they as chilled out as they like to appear? No of course they’re not, is anyone?  Some are away with the fairies, others slightly psychotic, all of which is due to an over indulgence in their herb of choice. Take the herb away and then see how chilled out they are. If you need a vice it’s to help you through life’s knocks, it’s a coping mechanism, life isn’t easy for anyone, I get that, I’m not saying it is. All I’m saying is, don’t go around like you’ve found the answer, like you know something I don’t, hello you’re high!

Before I’m accused of picking on a defenceless Sub-class allow me to get to the point I’m having trouble making. Is it true, from a sociological standpoint, perhaps even a psychological one, that individuals who appear to be laid back are, when you scratch the surface, only trying to persuade, not only everyone else, but themselves of that chilliness? Or is it actually true that they are angry people trying to find a way to relax, a way to appear calm? Deep breaths darling, deep breaths.

Leaving these hippies to their blessed existence I move on to a broader illustration, another type of person, because to be fair, they don’t irritate me anywhere near as much as city folk do!  Say in some ‘cool to live in city’ where thousands of people exist in little bubbles or ‘apple clouds’ and say things like ‘I’m in marketing darling’ or ‘Ping me that memo by the end of trading’, it’s even worse.

You know the ones… Oh how they want to appear to be cool and in control, how they want the world to gaze at them and say ‘look at that totally together, chilled out Dude’ or ‘Dudess’. They spend a fortune on the right look, the right mode of transport, the right lifestyle to ‘appear to be chilled’ when really all they are doing is presenting a nice shop window, but don’t have any stock.

 The trappings of ‘chilled’ are plentiful, all wrapped up for eager consumers in words like ‘spiritual healing’ whether it’s a new self help book or a kumquat scented infusion. You can buy into all sorts of wonderful ‘lifestyle’ furnishings like diets or fashion or bizarre Tibetan chanting, or unheard of religions all designed to bring you happiness and calm. Herbal teas, bath salts, aroma therapy, homeopathy, whale music, monks carousing, S.A.D lighting, massage and what not, are all lovely I’m sure, but does it really work? What happens when someone dares to mess with your vibe, knocks your equilibrium all a kilter, do you rely on your meditation mantra or your new hemp trousers to stabilise your temper? Or do you throw your kinetic mood balls out of your hammock?

Why? Why bother with it all? Just be happy in yourself, with yourself and spend less time worrying about you, and more time worrying about others. It’s only human nature after all, we all get pissed off from time to time, and we all experience a lack of patience at the end of a hard day. If you feel like you need to suppress that emotion, keep it locked away behind a Zen facade, you’re denying yourself a totally natural experience. Personally I feel a lot better after taking my aggression out on my nearest and dearest, and I know they wouldn’t have it any other way!  But what I’m not doing is buying into a lifestyle that falls at the first hurdle, no one, no matter how hard they try can honestly believe that you can, with certain practises, sail through life without a hitch. If on the other hand you have a problem controlling your anger, that deep down you blame everyone else for your shortcomings, don’t try to pass yourself off as serenity personified!

Somewhere in an English semi detached Victorian house lives a chap who is chilled. He lives in a town no one has heard of, he’s lived there all his life. He works for a living and never lives to work, earning enough to get by, to put food on the table. Married with 2.5 children and a ferret he has in his loft a model railway which he spends most of his spare time building. He doesn’t drink, doesn’t see the need, he listens to Wagner and loves reading crime novels. He plays squash on a Wednesday, and thinks his Coniglio alla Cacciatore is really rather good. When he talks to you, he’s interested in what you have to say, what you do, what you think. Interested in everything and everyone, he’s always looking for new ideas.  He gets involved with his children’s lives and helps others in need, not for money or recognition but because he feels that life has dealt him a good hand and he finds it satisfying! Oh and he wears a cardigan because it’s sensible and wouldn’t know what crocs were if they bit him on the arse.

Ok he doesn’t really exist, I made him up, but I bet he does exist; the point is you wouldn’t notice him; he’s not interested in being noticed. He’s got family, passions and pursuits, they may not involve Tai chi or Chakra but they might if he thought he’d enjoy it.

So there you go, no one is that chilled out really, we all have bad days but the secret is to build a balanced life, love and be loved and stop thinking everyone gives a shit, they don’t!

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About CageWriter

Englishman Living in France with my French wife and bilingual son. I'm a struggling writer as in I struggle to write even though I feel it's my calling. I get easily side tracked, this blog being a case in point!
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