A couple days ago was New Years Eve. As a small celebration for the end of a good year, I took my single employee, his wife, and my wife, to a fancy dinner. We ate caviar, Wagyu beef, sea urchin, crab, smoked sturgeon, black garlic, truffled potatoes, and more in a series of small dishes over three hours. Each course was paired with a wine from around the world. I was so full and buzzed I was almost sick. It was great company, a wonderful experience, and a fitting end to the year. The total bill was $900.
Prior to that fine dining experience I worked out in the park. I leopard crawled from one end of a soccer field to the other for twenty minutes. Leopard crawling is similar to how a baby crawls, but you float your knees so that only your hands and toes touch the ground. After a minute or two of this, your quads are cooked and your heart is hammering. I do it with my mouth closed and breathe through my nose. I can do a full field in two “sprints”, but then I’m so winded I have to pause every 20 – 30 feet before resuming the crawl.
It’s always painful. But that day it was especially so because a steady winter rain was beating down on me. I kept slipping in the mud and jarring my elbows. I couldn’t look straight ahead because the rain was coming down so hard. My hands were red and numb and I was soaked by the end of it. I was so cold my ear canals were aching.
Afterwards, I took a hot shower and it felt so amazing that I had to talk myself into turning off the water and getting ready for dinner. That delightful quiet moment cost me a little bit of willpower and twenty minutes of pain.
Of the two experiences that day, the hot shower after the crawl was easily the more pleasurable.
Money is a wonderful thing. It’s incredibly flexible and can act as a proxy to many of the things that we need and want.
That verisimilitude also makes it dangerous. It can blind us to the finer things. We look to the proxy rather than the real thing.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what is truly luxurious. Here is a short list.
Consider that you can meet all of these needs with money, but that the purchased proxy doesn’t compare to the real thing. E.g. you can buy sleeping pills, but a full night’s sleep on it’s own feels much more luxurious.
- Having more time than things to do. Being able to loaf and dawdle without concern for the clock. Temporal slack.
- Having agency to choose how you work and what you work on.
- Having more money than you need. Financial slack. There are loads of people that make a fine living and still live at the line of dissolution.
- Rest when you’re exhausted.
- Food when you’re starving.
- Water when you’re parched.
- Relief from pain.
- The end of hard physical labor.
- Soreness, fatigue, and an unattended couch.
- Carrying no grudges. No chips on your shoulder. No enmity.
- Being free of shame and regret. Forgiving your mistakes and missteps. Accepting your flaws.
- Spending time with good people.
- Having a good family.
- Driving when the streets are empty. Shopping when the store is in a lull.
- Having someone make coffee for you.
- A book you can’t put down.
- The first day in the spring where you can take your coat off and the sun warms your arms and face as the birds sing.
- Being fascinated.
- Sharing your gifts.
- Seeing an unplanned sunrise or sunset.
- A full night’s sleep.
- Friday night.
- Staring outside from a warm room as the snow or rain falls.