That kind of luxe it ain’t for us…

I think about the concept of luxury sometimes, how it balances with meekness, with humility, with being “poor in spirit”.  (I note to myself: find out if “poor in spirit” means what you think/have been taught it means).  

The definition of luxury is ” a state of comfort or extravagant living”.  I love that definition, but I also see how people have linked it with concepts of wealth. Not to knock money.  It’s nice to have money.  It’s necessary for things in this world.  I don’t love it though.  I resent having to rely on it.  

My friend Kristen said on Twitter one day “#wealth need not be #money”, and I think that is the truest thing that I can think of.  Just like comfort need not be money, or living extravagantly need not be anything to do with riches. It’s something that Kristen teaches me from her Buddhism all the time, about pursuing beauty and extravagance that is divorced from money or finances.  My faith path says “But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment.”  which to me really says that you can’t just think about godliness but also about being content, The passage goes on to talk about how we don’t bring anything but ourselves into the world, and leave in similar fashion.  I think I often think of contentment as being okay with what you have… but the definition of THAT word is ” a state of happiness and satisfaction”, which makes me redefine myself a little.   Like, instead of having to “make do”, possibly I need to not only embrace and be grateful for the immense amount of luxury and sweetness I enjoy in life, but also be willing to pursue and work at contentment in the same way that I pursue and work at godliness.  That being content is a virtue not of martyrdom but of celebration.  As I have been redefining this for myself, I’ve found it so much easier to be content, and that the contentment feels luxe.  It feels decadent.  It opens me up to how much I have and my privilege in life in ways that allow me to do something with that life and privilege instead of feeling vaguely guilty and trying to make up for it in other ways. 

As an American who is employed and is married to someone employed, I do live in a lot of monetary luxury, so much more than the bulk of the globe.  And yet the culture I live in would lead me to believe that I am practically impoverished, because I can’t do what I want all the time.  That to stick to a budget is a stigma of my class,  and that my pursuit in life would be a lot more money to obtain and maintain comfort.  In fact, I am quite comfortable.  My bills are paid, I live in a lovely townhouse, we can buy nice things,  we are never hungry.  We even do luxury things like go out to eat and go to the movie theatre,  head to the Onsen. 

I grew up with a family that really made very little money.  My parents worked hard to ensure that the situations that brought to us did not define us.  Our family had oodles of fun, did lots of exciting things, and sacrificed what many consider comfort to travel and experience and enjoy.  We were aware, a lot of the time, of our situation in life (as Jane Austen would have put it), and I think somewhere I did think “Ah! If we are doing this now, imagine what I could do with a NORMAL life, a NORMAL job, as an adult”.  Not understanding the balance of life, and how demanding a “Normal” life is of your money, resources and life essence.  But having a relatively “normal” life now, I am so grateful to be able to draw on that ingenuity, that gratefulness, that attitude of being able to make things happen and be generous even when you don’t have a lot of money… how to serve and be generous with other things and in other ways. 

And yet I still forget to buy into contentment.  Or I forget to allow myself to enjoy.  I get in my head and say that because I’m supposed to be content with what I have and I have so much more than most people that I shouldn’t get myself anything or shouldn’t treat myself because that is frivolous and stupid, and I judge myself really harshly for any non essential purchase, or when I get money and think about how contentment isn’t money so money can’t do good things for me.

This last week was snowy and it triggered my anxiety and my OCD and I built myself a mermaid bath, with a bath bomb and face mask and coconut body butter… and it felt so decadent.  I felt guilty as I dreamed it up… that money could go to something useful, that buying those things would be a luxury and luxury is bad and money is bad, and … and… and I remembered that enjoying what your hands have worked for is a virtue.  That you can practice gratefulness, charity, compassion, thrift, and still be allowed to do something frivolous just for the spirit feeding joy of it.  And there was freedom in that realization. 

 

So, just as wealth need not be money,  being content doesn’t mean never ever pursuing something you don’t have.  And just as you can’t buy happiness,  being happy with something you bought is okay too.  Just pursuing the balance,  seeking the joy, and being grateful and content and trying to share what ya got.  

…We crave a different kind of rush, 

raych

Advertisements

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. larkington
    Feb 13, 2014 @ 22:18:15

    Bam! Speak it, Rachel!

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: