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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

My Cup Runneth Over...

To those who, to excuse their prodigality, urged that they spent only money that they did not know how to use otherwise, Zeno said, 'Would you forgive the cook who made his sauce too salty for you, and said it was because he had more salt than he knew what to do with?'"
Zeno as quoted in Stobaeus' Florilegium, vol. i, p. 271

How many times in our world of affluence in North America have we spent our surplus on frivolous things.  We are so wealthy in comparison with the rest of the world that when we have a surplus of riches we tend to be wasteful or embarrassingly extravagant.  I know that I am guilty of this, especially in our renovations project.  I went beyond what was expedient to purchase granite counter tops.  Yes, I can justify it by saying they will last etc. but it was unnecessarily extravagant if I am totally honest with myself.  I failed at that moment when I chose and prepaid for granite.  A laminate composite would have served my purpose and would have lasted me for ten years and cost less than a third of the price of granite.

So now that I have the installed granite what should I, as a modern day person trying to embrace the Stoic philosophy and principles into my life, do?  I have a few options: a) I could take out the granite and donate it for charity and make do with plywood (this would probably cause damage to the cabinets that are now installed to fit the granite) b) I can accept the past and make the best use of the counter tops moving forward, appreciating them each day and allowing them to bring joy to everyone who spends time in my kitchen.

After much soul searching I have decided to learn the lesson that good does not mean extravagance.  I need to meet my needs for cleanliness, function, etc. moving forward but must learn the lesson that extravagance in neither necessary nor preferred.  Now that the choice to spend more money on granite has been made and it is a "fait accompli" I need to let that choice go and move forward ever mindful of this lesson but not dwelling on it.  It would be wasteful of me to waste the counter top now but I will not spend unreasonably or buy more than I need moving forward.

We are an extremely affluent society.  We suffer from affluenza, the desire to acquire more and more things, to the point that we need storage units and are addicted to shopping and buying more to fit into our storage units.  As a Stoic with the primary guiding principle of "living according to nature" I feel that embracing a more minimalist lifestyle is the way to move forward.  As we continue to fit ourselves into one floor of our house rather than two, we need to keep this idea in mind while sorting through our "stuff", keeping only that which we have a need for and room to store, gifting the surplus to family and friends who need it.