The Freedom of Frivolity


I don't think I'm the only one experiencing this push-pull of energy in the air lately. On the one hand, we have the open-hearted bursting of spring in flowers and trees, and on the other, we feel the retrograde of winter still haunting us, pulling us back inside to safe coziness.  

And in this tease of pioneering energy matched with a seeming slide back into slowness, I've been considering the beauty, the freedom, and yes even the necessity of sweet, sweet frivolity. 

A word with inherent negative, and somewhat of a wasteful connotation, "frivolity" can conjure up images of one sitting on a plush couch, surrounded by velvet, and eating bon-bons. But I'd like to challenge that notion. In fact, I'm finding great merit and importance in the idea of frivolity these days.

How so? 

As someone who can be hyper-focused, goal-oriented, and pioneeringly ambitious, dipping a toe into the frivolous can lend some much needed ease and reprieve to a busy day. Here are a few examples frivolous activities I've engaged in as of late:

  • Ceramics. I have a handful of beautiful hand-crafted mugs and yet I have been virtual-window-shopping for future purchases and daydreaming about taking a ceramics class of my own one of these days. I love finding new mug-makers from Portland, or Brooklyn, or right here in Washington. I love using a work of art for my own morning nourishment. 
  • Hula dancing. I recently had the incredible experience of learning to hula dance from an actual hula master (called a Kumu) at a retreat. Is shaking my butt a necessary act in a given day? Nope. Is it still bringing me a ton of joy and ease as I practice my new moves? Yep. Frivolity at it's finest. 
  • Flowers in the bathroom. I can remember the places I've been where I've seen exquisite bathroom flowers. Those images have stayed with me. Maybe it's because I have a photographic memory for weirdly-placed flowers, sure, but maybe it's also because it's just so unnecessarily fun. 
  • Good TV: GLOW on Netflix is laugh-out-loud funny. I've been finding myself lost in the unapologetic political-incorrectness and strange wonderfulness of fake women's wrestling. It is captivating, and I am loving every moment of the first season. 

Let's be clear - in my opinion frivolity is not about waste or overdoing things - but it is about lightness and levity. About the unexpected bursts of joy in the middle of a day. It's the doing of something that is not directly related to your goals, your successes, and your education. 

With the frivolous we don't hold so tightly or try so hard. We can swing our hips in a pattern that doesn't remotely resemble a hula master's cool flow and just not care. Frivolity reminds us we can worry less about the outcome and more about enjoying the process. That we can release the confinement of control and embrace the flow of fun. 

Because honestly, who cares whether you're going to be able to use those pottery skills to get your next raise? Or whether those bathroom flowers have an affect on reducing inflammation in the body? At the end of the day, I care much more about sniffing out joy - in both the essential and the frivolous. But during this time of energetic back and forth, the frivolous is proving to be a lot more fun. 

Joanna Andreae