Valentine's Day, 2016
I'm not really one for Valentine's Day. I like it as an excuse to spend some extra time with John, but I'm not bothered about presents or posh dinners or big (or public!) declarations of love. It's just personally not for me and so I kind of forget about it every year until all of a sudden it's there again.
We also don't use it as much of a promotion opportunity for Sparklewren. I don't recall ever having a customer buy something as a Valentine's gift (generally, our customers have earned their own money and are buying for themselves) and given our bespoke takes so long it doesn't really work to promote it at Valentine's. Valentine's gifts (even if to yourself) seem to be more of the instant-gratification variety, so bespoke corsetry doesn't quite fit. At least, it doesn't seem to with our brand.
But today instagrammed a picture of my old pony Freddie. It kind of ended up being a Valentine and it got me thinking about how experience of the thing is more important than ownership of the thing.
Ownership matters, where living animals are concerned. Though Freddie is as happy as can be with his longterm loan mama, I would never sell him as you don't know where ponies can end up once you do. By retaining ownership, you can offer a degree more safety for the animal. It also makes things simpler in terms of defining responsibility. So to clarify, what I mean by "ownership" in the broader context of this post is the slightly greedy side of ourselves that can come to the fore when we want to claim or own something. When we want to hold onto something too tightly.
I'm not very precious with my possessions. There are just a couple of things that I would be sad to lose and, as with items like that, it's because of the personal symbolism I've bestowed upon them rather than the object itself. It's the experience of the thing that matters, and memories of an experience don't need to be jealously guarded and held onto. In a surprising way, I think this is part of why our bespoke corsetry works actually... It's more about the process of creating something together (and what that means for the wearer) than it is about the object itself.
To come back to ponies... I would love to own one again, in the near-ish future, for the reasons mentioned. But in the meantime I'm insanely lucky to be helping out with the stables in such a way that I can enjoy many of the experiences of horses even whilst circumstances dictate that I couldn't currently own a new one. Being welcomed to share in their care and work is a wonderful thing. Twice a week, I get to help with mucking out, feeding, watering, and all the associated little moments of human/horse interaction that this allows for. I get to work and improve as a rider and with lunging, so my need for ongoing education is also met. I get to help with multiple horses, which invariably teaches you a lot... I had Freddie for over a decade before he went to his current mama, but one sound and clever pony at grass teaches you about keeping one sound and clever pony at grass. Now I am learning more about different sides of horsemanship, simply through being exposed to more than one animal's needs (and more than one person's point of view).
Excluding Freddie, I don't "own" a horse, and yet I feel almost as though I "have" a few horses. What good fortune, to experience this!
So if Valentine's Day is about demonstrating love, then I think it's nice to think of what that can mean. If you're giving love then you're giving kindness, which doesn't necessarily have to be in object form and it doesn't necessarily have to be to one person. I should think it's more about experiences, memories, and stories. Which doesn't require ownership.