Thursday, July 7, 2011

Sailing to Heck by Jennifer Gooch Hummer

Sailing to Heck by Jennifer Gooch Hummer


I am working on a novel based around the principles of Feng Shui and what it can do to you if you're not careful. Take over your life, for one thing. Hopefully it will turn out to be a funny, entertaining piece of Chick Lit. But whatever it comes out to be, one thing is certain: the remedies in it are real. Of course that doesn't mean anything to you now. Or for the vast majority of you, will it ever. But for those of you who might be curious and I am no longer able to blog because my Chinese Feng Shui master has cut my fingers off for giving away these secrets, I'm telling you because these rules are bizarre.

 

I know. I've used them.

              

Feng Shui is confusing. There are numbers, directions and colors to consider. Frogs need to be angled a certain way and coins have to clink on the appropriate door. Sometimes, a lot of the time, a remedy seems like nothing more than one big rumor: keep a red vase half-full of water in the South West corner of your bedroom to attract romance (no flowers in it). Don't place your bed directly in line with the door (the death pose).

 

But there are times when Feng Shui can be just a case of good old common sense.

 

Consider Sailing to Heck.

 

A few years ago, my family and I lived in Spain. My husband was sent there for a few months, so we packed up the three small daughters, pre-paid our Verizon bill, and left.

 

 Picture a quaint countryside, toothless old ladies selling fruit at every corner, cobblestone streets echoing the click clack of hoofs, miles of rolling green vineyards – picture this, and you won't be envisioning where we were. Because where we were ended up being in an industrial town built around its port. Busy, dirty and thriving - but not quaint. Naturally, we couldn't speak the language, had no childcare, no school, no car, and not even (as it turned out) much time with aforementioned spouse/parent. It was approximately twelve thousand degrees every day and dinner, in Spain, is served at 10pm. Now. Maybe you're a parent and just reading this makes your stomach feel as if a small bowling ball has been dropped in it. Or maybe you're not a parent, never want to be a parent, and feel nothing at all at the thought of being on house arrest in a foreign country with a couple of elementary students and someone who's witnessed less that five orbits of the Sun.

 

Either way, the point I'm making here is that our home base was ultra important.

 

Back to Sailing to Heck.

 

It is a picture. Make that a painting. And the sole piece of art in our garage-sized apartment. Our flat was fine. For Spain. For two months. For free. But it was not highly decorated.

 

With one exception: Sailing to Heck.

 

The artwork was, as far as we could tell, a painting of a tiny, dark, defeated sailboat heading straight into an endless, black eternity. Like a big black "Dementer" waiting to suck your breath out, this painting was in fact more than a painting – it was a black hole in the wall. Big enough to fall through. Or jump into. Or stare at, and stare at, and stare at, until really, what was life worth living for? Sailing into the deep dark underworld of Heck seemed to be the only option.

 

This is not good Feng Shui. Unless you're a Vampire or a Spoken Word Artist, this type of décor – especially if it is your only décor, is not inspiring.

 

Time for some Feng Shui.

 

I have never defaced a work of art in my life. I don't even walk on chalk. But when you take into account non-napping Siesta time, a non-working TV, and Spanish Scrabble, things change. Even the endearing name we gave the painting lost its luster. Something had to be done. Taking it down and stowing it behind the burgundy pleather couch was an option - but what if it was damaged, dusted or worse? We had already broken a lamp, one glass and four plates (we had to keep track). No. We needed to remedy, not remove.

 

It was simple enough - one of my daughters used the brightest crayons we had to create a happy boat, flag and all, which we taped onto the canvas, gently. I explained that one never does this to artwork. Leaving a sticky note on Monet's Haystacks for instance, would get you arrested. But here, in out mental ward white apartment roughly the size of my thumbnail, a little tape was a lifesaver.

 

The painting was still black and the boat was still sailing into it, but maybe the people on board didn't mind so much now. One could image their cheery, expectant faces as they sailed off into the untold waters. And lo and behold, we became cheerier too. In fact, we were even giggling again - every time we looked at our newly renovated painting. Siesta passed faster, the scrabble words came easier and our casa sweet casa became a bit less, well, black hole-ish.

 

This is a Feng Shui remedy. A few crayons and some tape. Even a Stick 'Em can work. Feng Shui is supposed to make your space cheerier. And your space is a reflection of you. Sometimes we get so complacent, busy, stressed out, we don't notice that our surroundings no longer (if they ever did) reflect who we are and where we want to go. I bet most of us aren't hoping to dock in Heck anytime soon. But if we are not careful, our surroundings might be navigating us there - slowly, silently, efficiently.

 

Try this: move 27 little things in your home. Switch photos around on the shelves, remove a few books from your desk, slide your wastebasket to the other side of the room, maybe even place a half-filled red vase in the corner of your bedroom.

 

Then sit back and note the new air. It could be subtle - just a small breeze barely detectable bringing in a tiny change, or it could be a huge gust delivering a new opportunity, a stroke of good luck or a new friend. Try it. What the heck.

 

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