Happy new year, dearest Readers and Lurkers! I know I haven’t been consistent with keeping up with Mind of Malaka in 2022 – and to be honest that’s not likely to change in 2023 if the circumstances that kept me away from this beloved space are replicated this year. Yet as always, if you’re still here, I am grateful. You and I have been going strong(ish) for 13 years as of this month! Unreal.
The new year is a time for refreshing our spirits and dusting off our old resolutions. By the way, did you know that only a whopping 8% of us who do make resolutions at the beginning of the year will stick to them? When I heard that stat a few years ago, I felt both comforted and free. I haven’t made resolutions since pink low-rise-top-thong-peeping boot-cut corduroy pants were in fashion (this sounds specific for personal reasons). Instead, I have shifted my energy to creating a certain type of energy around me. Last year, I leaned into gratitude and it served me very well. Gratitude took me to physical spaces I had only hoped for. I got to hug old virtual friends in the real world for the first time. I took my first trip to East Africa. I saw extraordinary vistas and witnessed a glorious Blood moon (without a cloudy night sky for once!). This year, I’m fixating on luxury.
Now, before you slander me for any assumed petite bourgeoisie pursuits, allow me to explain! First, I want to say a word about gratitude. In 2022, I learned that there is a marked difference between gratitude and contentment. I have been brought up to seek the latter. The Bible has numerous verses that admonish believers to be content in all things, and there’s value in that. But after 40 years of living in the chrysalis of contentment, I have come to accept that – and taken great pleasure in – discovering that there is more for me and you. There is abundance and enough for each of us to live a luxurious life.
I believe that irrational contentment fosters complacency.
For example, in late October we were robbed twice in a week. Our landlord vehemently refused to implement any security measures to safeguard my family. The contentment doctrine dictates that we ought to have stayed in her crumbling edifice and be grateful to have a roof over our heads. But since I no longer live by that conviction, I have taken my gratitude to another location with an expansive veranda, solid floors and a stunning view of the Oteniqua Mountains. Our current house isn’t “perfect”, but it does represent an aspect of luxury for me. For the first time in weeks, I have slept peacefully throughout the night in a house that is not falling apart around me and my children.
André Leon Talley described luxury in a way that forever altered the way that I understand the term. W Magazine called it the only definition that mattered. He had been asked on many occasions to give his definition of the adjective that is often synonymous with opulence and hedonism. In one Shondaland interview he described it this way:
“To me, luxury is not just about a ride on the Concorde or wearing a sable-lined raincoat. That’s one kind of material luxury. It does not compare, though, to the extraordinary luxury of one’s emotional sustainability through the luxury of love, which comes through the nurturing of other people. Luxury is having a home that is impeccably clean. My grandmother taught me to wax wood floors. I remember the luxury of running through lines of fresh white sheets drying outside in the open air, after they had been boiled in a big black pot. We did not have wealth or extraordinary furniture, but we had the luxury of love and cleanliness. Luxury is…to be able to take control of one’s life, health, and the pursuit of happiness in a way that is joyful.”André Leon Talley
Luxury is to be able to take control of one’s life, health, and the pursuit of happiness in a way that is joyful. This is the opinion that will guide me and my actions in 2023. I’m under no illusions that everything will be easy in 2023. There were already warnings that we are headed into a global recession in the wake of rampant inflation, and fuel and food prices that are impossible for many folk. There is gloom on the horizon, but that has been true of every year since Adam and Eve ate that roasted plantain in the Garden. The plan simply is to pursue these things – control of my health and happiness, and to add to the happiness of others – with joy. I’m looking forward to seeing what these next 361 days have to offer.
If you are part of the Exceptional 8%, will you be making resolutions for the new year? If not, what are you dreaming and plotting for yourself? My biggest goal is to review 30 types of craft gin made in the Western Cape before the year is out. You can check out my first two videos on In My Gin Nation! And if you have gin recommendations, I’d love for you to share.