“I think that one’s art is a growth inside one. I do not think one can explain growth. It is silent and subtle. One does not keep digging up a plant to see how it grows.” —Emily Carr
What I have become keenly aware of being in London recently during the short duration of my vacation is the enormous power in the subtly of suggestion. Whether it be found in fashion, attraction or entertainment, there is a level of moderation, a fine line of division between attractively suggestive and blatantly obvious and annoying.
As an American, I stand proudly to cheer for my nation, but what I have come to learn is that there is a sophistication that I am observing in London that can easily be incorporated into our lives in America to soften the edges, add a bit of intrigue and make life a bit more pleasurable and fulfilling. Perhaps it is the people I have been fortunate to be surrounded by, dine with and experienced day-to-day events with while here, but I do believe there is a certain je ne sais quoi that can be brought back to the states.
Instead of desiring a need to “get wasted”, why not choose a delicious wine or thirsty-quenching lager, savor one or two glasses in an evening and simply light a gentle spark to make the evening special and enjoyable? Instead of wearing a mid-thigh reveling skirt paired with a cleavage popping top, opt for an exquisite silk dress that drapes your body, hinting at what might be found, not proving explicitly what will be discovered?
Also, choose to flirt simply to flirt not being aggressive and wanting something more. Both men and women want to feel as though they are attractive, and a bit of subtle flirting (as long as it stops there), is more a compliment than an act of disrespect if handled properly.
Lastly entertainment. There is a respect for intelligence and academia in Europe that I have fallen in love with. Being cute does not get you as far, which is a delight indeed. You must be knowledgeable of the language, culture and colloquialisms. You must attempt to show deference to the culture you are immersing yourself in. In other words, you must be well-rounded, continually curious and strong enough to speak your mind whilst prepared to civilly back up your arguments with sound support. To know the basics of politics, history, art and religion will help significantly. And any culture that values continued education is a very good thing in my book.
More than anything, as someone who is admittedly an “A” type personality, I want to know the outcome and how it will work out, and being subtle, at least on the surface, is not conducive to knowing ahead of time. It requires each of us to be confident in who we are and what we have to offer, and an acceptance that if it wasn’t meant to be, to be able to let go and move on with grace. The mystery is what makes it magical. However, it is also what makes it excruciating if we confine ourselves to the “need to know” way of living.
To avoid this feeling of unknowing, choose instead to find the fine line between tell-all and being a closed and locked book, and choose instead to dance in the middle which is attractively intriguing. As humans, we are curious creatures. As humans we are drawn to what is dangled in front of us, but not revealed. As humans we will find an inner calm, a more balanced life when we choose to become more subtle with our behavior . . . ultimately creating a more fulfilling life.
9 thoughts on “The Art of Subtleties”
Shannon, this is a beautifully written piece. It has put into words what I’ve been sensing I need to do at this time. Lovely, wise words to now to go to sleep to, instead of my mind whirring with unhelpful thoughts.
What a beautiful post. So timely in my life at this moment. Thank you for always writing so clearly what is needed to live an authentic life.
As an American who has been living on this side of the pond for decades, I have for a long time felt exactly what you said.
Thank you and congratulations for finally putting it into words so well.
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As I stated on fb, I adore this post greatly! Your wise words chosen so brilliantly and spot on. Thank-you for sharing this gem and this is why your blog is my fave 🙂
Oftentimes I wonder how far my subtle ways can take me and how much of an outsider they make me. It’s such an amazing (and rare) feeling to encounter others who see the beauty in the qualities I value myself. Qualities long forgotten in the contemporary society. Thank you for all your beautiful posts. Greetings from your European reader!
Good reminders to leave a little mystery to create intrigue, thanks!
So true, so true! I am finally catching up on your posts and so enjoy reading them. While I am American all the way, I wonder if I was born in Europe in another life — I really do enjoy the pace of their lifestyle when I visit, and I enjoy immersing myself in the culture.
Recently came across you blog, and still getting through each article one by one. This particular one called out to me today and it’s spot on with how I’ve been feeling recently. Thank you for your kind and gentle words.