I’ve decided what this blog is going to be about.
It’ll be a space to discuss and share some of the complexities of life I have grappled with over the years.
Deep existential questions.
“What is the purpose of life?”
“Why are we here?”
“What is love?”
“Who finished the milk and left the empty bottle in the fridge?”
But seeing as people way smarter [than me] have spent much longer deliberating on these puzzles and the answers continue to elude us all, I’ve taken the decision that perhaps we can start by looking at simpler things.
So here’s the plan.
I’ll take a photo that I took before and take the time to tell you a bit about it.
Then I’ll try and smuggle in some of my thoughts-in-process that could end up being half-baked theories, well seasoned with child-like naivety.
If I’m feeling really inspired, I might chuck in a poem as well.
This picture was taken in the middle of central London, at Piccadilly Circus, on a bright and sunny autumn afternoon. Which in England means it was not raining.
Regent Street was closed off to vehicles, people wandered freely on the road, making agreeable noises about the weather, pushing prams and herding their offspring, purchasing a variety of products from smiling salesmen and staring at their phones.
I mingled inconspicuously with the crowd, eyes peeled, looking for a suitable subject to photograph when it hit me.
(…actually it didn’t hit me. It rode in front of me. And it’d have had to hit a lot of people before it got to me. But I digress).
A giant bus draped in advertising decals – striking patterns, bright colours and vivid imagery. A bold message promising that a change to market-leading sports footwear would lead to a dominant re-framing of [the wearer’s] world.
(Think Dorothy’s ruby slippers in the Wizard of Oz but with way more street cred).
*Sigh* If only life were that simple…
I have to admit that advertising can be very effective in grabbing our attention and directing our actions. It’s just that we’re often being distracted by things that aren’t really that… meaningful.
Things like stuff.
Stuff to wear.
Stuff to have.
Stuff to put our stuff in.
Stuff to move our stuff around.
Stuff to keep our stuff safe while we’re out buying more stuff.
But what if we could use advertising to improve our collective sense of worth?
What if we could be constantly reminded of the things that make us human, the things that unite us? The hidden beauty in our world? The great truths of life and the wisdom of the sages?
What if we could look up every now and again from our smartphones are be reminded that we are all one?
And all this without being sold to?
The shared cultural experiences that were prevalent in the past are becoming rarer with each passing day. We are social creatures and have created online platforms and networks to address our need for social interaction. Unfortunately, online communities can’t replicate the sense of togetherness that one gets from sharing the same physical space as another.
Our theatres, playhouses, museums… are all working harder than ever to attract and hold the attention of younger generations. But I suspect the real issue is how to generate a natural curiosity that drives individuals to find out more about the arts, philosophy and life itself.
As with many things, it may be counter-intuitive.
It may be much simpler than we think.
To get people to come to us, we stop chasing them.
We stop selling our brand to them.
We take what we have and we give it away.
Perhaps a picture of an inspirational piece of art.
Or a poem, a quote, a phrase….
For someone to see for the first time.
(Along with everyone standing nearby)
Making its way slowly moving through traffic.
Emblazoned in large letters.
On the side of a bus.