Pinning and Pining.

Last fall, when my dear friend (our very own Bitter en Zoet, to be exact) suggested I join Pinterest, I must admit that my first reaction was: I can’t possibly handle another something to continuously check and update.  My second reaction, though, after opening her invitation and browsing her first few pins, was: what a lovely idea for a guestroom.  Between a quiet photo of pink buds in the snow and a stark pen-and-ink drawing of tree trunks labeled “For the bath,” I noticed a downy mess of a bed, brimming with pillows in soft colors, in front of white beadboard.  My friend had pinned it as an idea for her basement, and I suddenly felt inspired to board a plane for Europe, knock on her door, snuggle myself into that basement bedroom and wake up to a morning of croissants and tea and conversation at what I could only imagine would be some perfect little breakfast nook in her fresh and well-lit kitchen.

Now, half a year into my relationship with the virtual pinboard, this is the scene at my desk most mornings:

Pinterest and English Breakfast Tea in the morning.

Not to be too dramatic about it, but this act of ‘pinning,’ of virtually tacking images up onto a crisp white online ‘board,’ is a remarkably affirming activity.  I collect images of my dream home (clawfoot tubs, bright airy kitchens with open shelves, old-world tiled floors, front porches, exposed brick walls, antique crystal chandeliers, bright yellow doors), my fantasy backyard (mostly things that belong alongside a cottage in the English countryside), and my ideal wardrobe.  With each push of that little ‘Pin It’ button, I feel as if I’m saying to the world: I love this, or this says something about who I am.

Elements of my dream home.

Surely people with more Zen in their blood might find the whole ordeal problematic—as in: there’s too much wanting, too much coveting, too much staring at the computer screen, not enough acceptance of one’s present moment, etc etc—but to me, gathering things I love and crave makes me feel more myself.  Even though many of those things are far off in my future, or perhaps not in my future at all, seeing all of them accumulated on my screen reminds me of what I want and where I want to go.

This is the charm and the (intoxicating, addictive) allure of Pinterest: to surround oneself with the things one finds beautiful, even if (or perhaps especially if) those things cannot, for whatever reason, be a part of everyday life.  In interviews, the founders of Pinterest refer in almost every sentence to beauty—in relation to their design concept, their original inspiration, their vision for the connection between their community of users. Complete strangers befriend each other based upon a shared aesthetic. Users get to know each other by the things each finds particularly lovely or eye-catching.  (At this point, I hear echoes of the voice of a writer I very much admire, saying to me: you must learn to write about the things you love with more restraint.  But, alas, here I go:) On Pinterest, we are allowed a bit of space to bring together the pieces of our fantasy lives.  We listen to ourselves there, we pay attention to what excites us.  And although I say this with absolutely no scientific or medical chops whatsoever, there must be something indisputably therapeutic about this daily exercise in imagination.

8 thoughts on “Pinning and Pining.

  1. I recently took a peek at your pinterest board and was blown away by the organization and prolific collection you have amassed. You have far surpassed me (I sort of fell off the pinterest bandwagon, there are too many things to pin!). I hope to get back on. But more importantly, I understand what you mean about how this collection helps define ourselves and how important that process can be when the house isn’t there yet. When your breakfast table doesn’t look half as gorgeous as you’d hoped when you woke up. Many years ago, I used to scrap book stuff I liked from magazines, scissors and gluestick and everything. I was dreaming about what kind of grown up I was going to be. When I became a grown up, a relaxing evening at home was me ripping pages out of magazines and filing them into binders. Then I was dreaming about a future idyllic life, what I would do when I had time or money. Pinterest has made the process much neater. But what is strange is sometimes I catch myself pinning things I remember, or want to remember. Things I’ve already done. It’s become as much a record as a wishing well.

    I confess my basement looks nothing like the pictures, nor does our guest room. But it’s there anytime you like. As for the birch wallpaper, the roll is sitting in my laundry room, waiting for the day I learn how to paste it up.

  2. I keep hearing about Pinterest, and I don’t think I can handle it! But like Bitter, I really relate to that feeling of collecting pictures of the future, and the satisfaction in that. I’ve been thinking that when I was a kid, my room was always covered with pictures of who I wanted to be when I grew up, or future hopes. Now, I don’t really have a place to do that. I can’t just decorate my room with pictures of rooms, or houses, I don’t really scrap-book, so I don’t have a place to collect those things. I see the attraction!

    • who did you want to be when you grew up?? what does it mean that we have no place for future hopes? (we can always put them here).
      I love that you called me bitter. 🙂

  3. Totally laughing at the bitter comment, Bitter en Zoet.

    I don’t really have time to do this anymore either. Okay, I guess I could make time but I’m doing this instead. (And apparently burning my supper too. I’d better get that off the stove.) I’m not on Pinterest (yet) but I used to scrap book stuff before I had an apartment. Now I can’t afford to buy new stuff so the novelty has worn off a bit but now and then I’ll pull that red book of my shelf and remind myself of the home I wanted to surround myself with before I arrived here.

    I remember being surprised by what I found while I was creating that book. Like when a pattern in style emerged that I wouldn’t have seen unless I’d been collecting photos. I felt like I was discovering something new about myself. Or even more, when there were apparently competing patterns that made me wonder if there were competing selves in me somewhere. Zen, bamboo blinds, rocks, plants, minimalist accessories, and sand coloured furniture. Versus eighteen colours of loud glass bottles with saffron and fuschia pillows and giant ornate picture frames. How do both of those “people” live in the same body?

    Do you find that? Or better yet, has anything you’ve seen told you something you didn’t know about yourself?

    • My house, quite simply, looks like a beach house: aqua blue and tangerine and tropical green and watermelon pink walls, bright colors, lots of art with palm trees (I grew up in Hawai`i and feel at home with this kind of island style). But my Pinterest boards are full of airy white rooms, breezy rooms that feel fresh and clean and new, with focused, controlled splashes of color. This interests me very much, and I do wonder, as you say, about the seemingly divergent tastes in my one self. I do wonder if those images I love are a sign of my maturing tastes, or some psychological need for something new, or what. Maybe I’ll paint a room white and see how it feels.

  4. Pinterest absolutely intimidates me. Makes me feel like an entirely inadequate wife, cook, decorator, woman in general. I might have missed the point entirely but my life seems already far too full of lists… why would I add another?

    • It’s hilarious to me you look at it in that way. Is that how you feel about magazines too? You just have to make your pinboard full of power quotes and max mara suits and remarkable women and Queensland sunshine. I know a guy who for some reason keeps pinning auto car parts. At least, I think that’s what they are.

      My problem is that I’d pin the bloody world. I think everything is cool and worth remembering (missed a good career as an archivist). Not discriminating enough.

  5. Pingback: Piece of Mind? Peace of Cake. | Mother Sugar

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