Sunday, September 6, 2009

Living in the Lap

Most of the luxuries and many of the so-called comforts of life, are not only not indispensable, but positive hindrances to the elevation of mankind.
Henry David Thoreau
Every luxury must be paid for, and everything is a luxury, starting with being in this world.
Cesare Pavese

So I posted an inquiry on my facebook and I loved the responses I got!

The question: How would you define luxury?
Kim: Something pink ;) Ok no but seriously... Yah no definitely something pink.
Tien: reading a book in bed without being bothered by anyone.
Jeremy: Anything that I can do, but is being done for my by pretty girls.
Crystal: Anything that makes me happy. As simple as a smile of honest gratitude.
Vivien: sometimes 7 dollar banana cream cheesecake from cheesecake factory..
Dan: Extravagant. Unneccessary for survival. But nice.
Tai: living beyond your means...and yes, it is not important for survival.
Bonnie: a pint of ice cream and a foot rub?
Sara: its the pleasuring of one's senses (i think)

This question came to me as Clint and I were strolling down the cobblestone alleyways of Bruges (speaking of luxury) and I can't even remember how the question came about but we started to wonder what luxury really means. Is luxury something that is the same, by definition, for everyone?

The googled definition of luxury is "something that is an indulgence rather than a necessity". Food is a necessity but is the convenience of having 3 grocery stores within 5 city blocks an indulgence or a necessity? Is it a necessity to have a stretch of American farmland dedicated to making corn to create low cost Little Debbies and CocaCola's? Or is that an American indulgence?

Does it have to be something extreme and extravagant like a German sportscar or a ridiculous house? Or in this day and age, can it be something simpler... cookie dough ice cream or cable television? Does it even have to be material--perhaps luxury is having a job? or a choice? Having a choice in the matter of something can be a huge luxury, can it not? If you ask a woman in Afghanistan would she say I'm living a luxurious life? Is luxury something that one doesn't need? We all need water but is clean water a luxury? Or is not having clean water considered flat-out poverty? Is luxury all relative? Or is it just any indulgence...

When I look around me during my travels and when I think back to my travels in the past, I've always felt very lucky. And whenever I return home, I feel like I'm returning to a bit of luxury. Think about your life right now... what luxuries do you enjoy each day just by the mere luck of your birth in the States? Is it luxurious to have a full pantry? Or is that a necessity for life to have food stored? Would the man sheltered by an overpass off Telegraph in Oakland agree?

At what point can we stop asking for more and realize how luxurious our lives might be to someone else?

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