Monday, May 01, 2006

Pansy, Pensee'

Support me as I practice not being perfectionistic. Despite my earlier near-ranting about the disintegration of the English language, I'm not going to get up and look up the French word in the title. I understand that the French do have government officials looking after their language, so I'm not as worried about it. And I'm tired. If I've spelled it wrong or used the accent incorrectly, so be it.

But "pansy" is thought to come from the French word "pensee'" which means a "thought" or "remembrance." The piece I read envisioned some man or woman walking out in the French countryside, seeing the flower, reaching down to pick it up, and while looking at it being reminded of something or someone as sweet as the flower itself. And so they named it "thought" or "remembrance."

I do love pansies. And this year has been my favorite. My hubby picked out the color, and it has just been wonderful. Our pansies tend to get pretty "leggy," creating a lot of green as they reach for light in our shade-filled yard, which to me just makes the blooms themselves more precious.

This evening I found a new reason for loving flowers.

I went to Office Depot to get a pen. In the past year I found a pen I love. I have a whole box of them at work, but my pen at home had run out. So I stood there in the pen aisle, with hundreds if not thousands of pens in front of me, scanning the rows to find "my" pen.

Scanning, scanning, scanning.

Looking very carefully, squatting and squinting.

It wasn't there.

Now it's possible that Office Depot just happened to be out, but I suspect otherwise. As I stood there, I found my brand, the right color ink, the same engineering. But the case was different, the grip was not the same, and the design had been changed.

I think they "new and improved" my pen. I fear that I will never again be able to buy the pen I have come to love so much.

Everything is new and improved these days, have you noticed? You can't count on your cereal box to look the same way it did just a year ago, because they've updated the look. You can't find the shampoo that was just right for your hair, because another brand introduced, oh, shampoo that also increases your serotonin level, so now your brand thinks it has to do the same thing.

I get worn out shopping sometimes, just trying to find the product I used to buy, that was there last month, but no longer seems to exist.

I have a book at my office, The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook. The author gives the numbers in the introduction to support the fact that anxiety is a HUGE problem in America today. His theory as to why? Because our culture has gone through more change in the past 30 years than in did in the 300 years before that. (I may not have the numbers just right, but you get the point.)

I think he's right. People in our country not only have to deal with the changes technology has brought, and the mobility that capitalism and technology have engendered, and the family/community disconnection that accompanies it . . . . They can't even count on using the same pen for more than a year! Or finding the same blue jeans they have been wearing! We have to constantly make new decisions, before we have even had time to get used to the decisions we made a short while ago.

Anyway, I think that's one reason I love flowers. And I don't buy the latest hybrids. I like the old-fashioned ones. The ones my mother and grandmother grew. The ones that look the same as the ones I see in paintings done 200 years ago. The ones whose names I read in the Bible. I imagine that over time, they do evolve and change a bit, adjusting to new environments and climates. But basically they're the same.

No need to make them "new and improved." They're wonderful just the way they are.

That's my pensee' for today.

5 comments:

Lawrence Underwood said...

Ach, I despise the phrase, 'New and Improved'. You, and your manual, are absolutely correct when looking at the corollary between change and anxiety. Just look at the manner in which we must continually adapt to new 'necessary' gadgets. As soon as you get used to one software it is no longer relevant or even useable.

One great book dealing with this issue is [u]Margin[/u]. Well worth the read.

Re: pens. I know what you mean. I have chosen two well made fountain pens that fit. As long as they make ink I'm in good stead. If they quit making ink. . . well I found an article on how to make it from charred cloth.

Have a slow day!

Sheila said...

I have that book, but haven't found time to read it! Ha! Actually, I've gotten pretty good at allowing for margins in life so am not highly motivated to read the book, except that I've heard it's very good.

Sheila said...

By the way, dear friend Beth just sent us some chocolates from Pennsylvania. The back of the box reads, "Wilbur Buds have been manufactured continuously since 1894 using Mr. Wilbur's original recipe." And I don't think they can be improved upon, because they are delicious!

Lawrence Underwood said...

Wow, Mr. Buds has been a very busy mand; and quite long lived I might add.

MiRiAm said...

I wonder if pansies, or penseè, are the equivalent of the Italian "Non-ti-scordar-di-me" (Forget me nots? or is that something else?); I love pansies too, but guess what it makes ME think of? The pansies in Dysney's "Alice in the Wonderland," growing up in the city with nothing more than a balcony....I think I must have missed something in my childhood (though it wasn't a bad one at all!)

Also, I understand what you said about our society: "You can't count on your cereal box to look the same way it did just a year ago, because they've updated the look. You can't find the shampoo that was just right for your hair, because another brand introduced, oh, shampoo that also increases your serotonin level, so now your brand thinks it has to do the same thing".

That is why I don't like shopping at all...it is too confusing. Wish we could just go down to the old timey markets like in Italy, where most of your product is straight from the raw material.

Love,
Miriam