Lagom: the Way of Goldilocks

Lagom is a Swedish word signifying just the right amount or proportion of something. (Not to be confused with mathom, which refers to old things suitable only for perpetual regifting.)

“Just right” is just what Goldilocks was looking for, and, I’d argue, just what we should be looking for ourselves.

The story of the three bears 1839 pg 30

Bigger is not always better; less is sometimes more. But then, sometimes less is actually less. I loathe the idea of being smothered in my own excess, but I don’t want to strip away the things I genuinely enjoy and which enrich my life. I am in search of “just right” (but unlike Goldilocks, I am not looking for it in other people’s houses while they’re out)!

Lagom is a wonderful concept, and the best thing about it, in my opinion, is that it isn’t prescriptive. It doesn’t say “this much”. It says “just the right amount” – which is different for different people. To illustrate the point, let us consider interior decoration.

For some, this is lagom: the minimalist look of utter simplicity.

Mauerbach 20110923 0059

I like the look, myself, but I don’t think I could actually live like that. For more than a day or two, anyway. Where would all the books go?
For other people, “just right” is more elaborate, or perhaps even a bit luxurious. Like this.

Government House Trendy Sitting Room (8415287951) (2)

And for some people, “just right” could be described as creative chaos. Again, it’s a nice place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there, myself. Not with all those swords on the wall. Not after the earthquake we had last night…

The problem is, of course, that it isn’t always easy to know what constitutes “just right” for you. Sometimes you’ve just got to whip out a spoon and try that porridge.

Generally speaking, most of us in the Western world have got rather full bowls. If you’re staring indigestion in the face, don’t feel you have to clean your plate. Consider spooning some out – into the smaller bowl, or out the window if it’s gone all cold and manky.

Whether you’re considering possessions, portion size or anything else, follow the Way of Goldilocks and ask yourself: Is This Just Right?
What’s lagom for you?

Denslow's three bears pg 5

If you were wondering who the old lady in the top picture is, she’s Goldilocks! She was originally a nasty old woman – and she wasn’t even called Goldilocks for her first sixty-seven years in print.

Quotes: Spring!

Spring! Spring is too wonderful to be encapsulated by just one quote, but here are three who’ve tried:

Portglenone Forest Bluebells - May 2008

“Spring was moving in the air above and in the earth below and around him, penetrating even his dark and lowly little house with its spirit of divine discontent and longing.”
Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows

Spring season of Cathedral Learning (13913705340)

“Spring beckons! All things to the call respond;
the trees are leaving and cashiers abscond.”
Ambrose Bierce

Frühling blühender Kirschenbaum

“Every spring is the only spring, a perpetual astonishment.”
Ellis Peters

What’s your favourite Spring quote – and what’s your favourite season? I love them all, but if I ruled the universe, Winter would only last for a month!

Talk to the Hat!

“Where’s your sense of adventure?”
“Er… I left it in my other pair of trousers!”

Anonym Erzherzog Karl II

How often do we do this? We mentally imbue a garment with a particular feeling, often the way we feel when we wear it. And then – and this is the part that I find particularly fascinating – we wear that item in order to recreate the feeling when we need it.

This post suggests assuming the persona of someone who would not be intimidated by whatever is intimidating you. Clothing, I believe, can be a very useful tool in doing this – even if you don’t have a specific person in mind.

For example, one might wear red to feel confident or powerful, when what one really wants to do is curl up under the covers with a sympathetic teddy bear.

Attributed to William Scrots - Elizabeth I when a Princess (1533-1603) - Google Art Project

Or a swishy dress to feel feminine, when one feels either bloated or brickish. Or a long coat when awesomeness is called for – and awesome is the opposite of what one feels.

Hats, I find, are particularly useful in this regard, as they are less tied to practicality – which is to say, they often don’t need to be getting another job done and can simply focus on producing the desired effect, whatever that may be.

Frivolous, intimidating, classy, mysterious, historical, “pastoral, pastoral-comical, historical-pastoral, tragical-historical, tragical-comical-historical-pastoral” or indeed very nearly anything else. There is a hat for every mood.

Behold! A tragical-comical-historical-pastoral hat!

Similar, but slightly different, are what you might call superstitions about clothing. E.g. this is my lucky hat; these are the socks that won the America’s Cup; and so on. I don’t go in for it myself, because what if you lose the item? (Or your socks run pink in the wash?) You’re just going to psych yourself out.

Do you go in for mood- or mind-altering substances clothing? Are you superstitious about your socks? Would you dare to wear the t-c-h-p hat? Tell all!