We’ve been spoiled.
The “we” in that sentence comes from the mind of a women who has known nothing but privilege all her life. And likely, if you’re reading this blog, the assumption is you’ve come from a similar situation. Privilege exists in shades and gradients, to be sure, but a merely comfortable life in America is a life of luxury for many.
But I wanted to address the idea of luxury, the concept of more, the notion of extreme excess in today’s Letter.
Note the imperfect thoughts, lack of fully-fleshed out ideas, and often one-sided explanation of ideals. I’m not the most eloquent writer, or even a proficient one, so if you care to weigh in, the comment section and email form is open for your thoughts.
the state of great comfort and extravagant living
Do you think of the Kardashians when you hear the word? Does your mind race to the faceless billionaires that live in penthouses and dine on lobster and champagne? The rise of media has given us glimpses into the lives of people that are surrounded by luxuries and our definition of the word has been shaped by the number of designer shoes, fixtures in a bathroom, model of car.
But, let’s submit a different picture of luxury and see if it holds up. That first statement in the definition – state of great comfort – is arguably arbitrary and decidedly important. Luxury for a Kardashian might be a mansion, but if it’s a $35 skillet that makes my life easier because I don’t have to scape egg residue off it every Sunday morning, is that not also a luxury?
A lot full of autonomous cars might be a luxury for Bill Gates but having two reliable sources of transportation is indeed a luxury for me. If an A-list actor buys a new perfume it might mean as little to them as a tube of toothpaste, but I just bought my first, grown up, glass bottled, last my whole life perfume and indeed that was an extravagant luxury – even if the price tag came in under $100.
I’m not here to call the spending habits of the rich and famous into question, but rather to help open our eyes about our collectively poor relationship with price tags and definitions.
Can we not agree that luxury is in the eye of the beholder and should not be what we chase after? Influencers (and yes, bloggers too) have made it their job to categorize items into well-regimented sectors. “Cheap” is under $100 , “Affordable” is typically $300 or less. “Designer” is high-priced and “Luxury” is well beyond that.
But what I’ve found is that most of my readers, followers, friends who reach out about a top or a pan or a product think $100 is a lot of money. I know I do. I scour thrift stores, shop sales, limit spending, and shop quarterly well within a budget. Which is why it took me four months and a unique circumstance to pull the trigger on an item that most would not consider luxury, but I find is the height of a luxurious purchase.
I wanted talk about this particularly touchy subject because so many things recently seem to revolve around wish lists and items we don’t have. Things we all want, purchases just for the sake of it. All in the name of “we need this [shopping] right now”, a “luxury item is worth it”. And while I’m a big proponent of “less is more but the less should be quality” it’s also in good practice to take a moment and realize our ability to buy new clothes no matter their price tag is a luxury.
Let’s take some time this week or month or year to become comfortable with our own versions of luxurious moments and things and memories. We might not be able to jet away to the Maldives on a whim, but what a beautiful thing to stand on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean 3 hours away with a loved one and watch the same sunrise. We [meaning I] may never own a Louis Vuitton Neverfull bag that is indeed a luxury (no matter how often you see it in the airport) but the gift of a handcrafted leather tote is a luxury of it’s own right and should be appreciated and loved as such.
The more we fixate on the more, the better, the luxury, likely the more we’ll under-appreciate the little luxuries we have right in front of us every single day.