Panasonic, Prada and Perspectives: Change isn’t that hard, is it?

By | January 21, 2008

Flower shopping: a whole new world view! 

Just yesterday, I went with Christine to a flower market in Taipei. This is something I normally hate doing, but this time something twigged: I may not appreciate the enjoyment and satisfaction she has from growing and keeping plants, but I could enjoy another aspect that I already knew about – taking photographs of the specimens. And the new power zoom of my Panasonic Lumix made it that much more fun.

Fashion affects us all

While I was thinking about this, another example sprang to mind: The Devil Wears Prada. Since this movie is set in the fashion world, most of the girls I knew reckoned that I wouldn’t or couldn’t possibly enjoy this movie. But they were wrong! And I was teased mercilessly for enjoying a ‘chick flick’ but I didn’t see it as a ‘chick flick’ at all. Far from it.

What was my secret? I had found something that I really enjoyed in the movie, the intrigue, the lead character called Miranda Priestly – played by Meryl Streep (one of my favorites since I first saw her in “Out of Africa”) – and the whole business of the fashion world. I also loved the idea that the fashion magazines were somehow connected to our daily lives, as Andy Sachs promptly found out, when lashed by Miranda’s tongue in the following diatribe:

Miranda Priestly: [Miranda and some assistants are deciding between two similar belts for an outfit. Andy sniggers because she thinks they look exactly the same] Something funny?

Andy Sachs: No, no, nothing. Y’know, it’s just that both those belts look exactly the same to me. Y’know, I’m still learning about all this stuff.

Miranda Priestly: This… ‘stuff’? Oh… ok. I see, you think this has nothing to do with you. You go to your closet and you select out, oh I don’t know, that lumpy blue sweater, for instance, because you’re trying to tell the world that you take yourself too seriously to care about what you put on your back.

But what you don’t know is that that sweater is not just blue, it’s not turquoise, it’s not lapis, it’s actually cerulean. You’re also blithely unaware of the fact that in 2002, Oscar De La Renta did a collection of cerulean gowns. And then I think it was Yves St Laurent, wasn’t it, who showed cerulean military jackets? And then cerulean quickly showed up in the collections of 8 different designers.

Then it filtered down through the department stores and then trickled on down into some tragic casual corner where you, no doubt, fished it out of some clearance bin. However, that blue represents millions of dollars and countless jobs and so it’s sort of comical how you think that you’ve made a choice that exempts you from the fashion industry when, in fact, you’re wearing the sweater that was selected for you by the people in this room. From a pile of stuff.

Shift your focus: Shift your future

That’s when it suddenly hit home to me, if I’m struggling to understand why something is interesting to other people, I just need to shift my focus to something that I am already familiar with, and perhaps, just perhaps I can make a connection with it that helps me to ‘get it’.

When I first started doing the finances, and handling the money, it was a very difficult time for me, as I had to learn new ideas and unlearn my former prejudices – thinking about, talking about, and taking action on finances weren’t things that came easy to me.

How Things Change

In fact, it would be impossible for me to imagine then that I could be writing a finance column about money, investing, loans, credit cards, blogging and technology (to name a few of my themes!). But somewhere between the date I got married in June 1995 and when we bought the house in 1999, a transition took place in my brain that allowed me to grasp ideas and information that had been ‘foreign’ to me for a long time.

Have you had a similar experience? Share with us.  Ever had to tackle something that you had a distaste for? What happened?