Offbeat 08 July 2016
I find myself writing this column on my birthday, a first, so I will explore the moment. I have taken steps to reduce personal interaction today, because there are only a handful of people I want to interact with, but this is broadcast. I write, and you read after the event.
I enjoy quiet birthdays, time for myself, alone, a luxury I don’t normally get. As far as festivities go, I went out last night for a couple of beers, chatted to a couple of friends, but didn’t link it to the day. I have a weekend of festivities with my daughter, and I will enjoy that. She will enjoy the festivities more than I will, but I will be able to enjoy her enjoyment, a gift in itself.
Normally, if there was one gift I wanted in the past, it was books. Amazon has put paid to that. I wondered if I should buy myself something today, but realised I have downloaded quite a few books in the past few days. I bought myself part of the ongoing complete Judge Dredd collection and a pair of writing thesauruses on rural and urban settings. Cool stuff.
The things that I want are not really things, more like qualities.
I spoke to an acquaintance a couple of weeks back and surprised myself by saying my quality of life is down to about nothing, so I need to write more. Sometimes the mouth says far more than conscious thought will allow. Obviously I need to push myself to write more stories. The main barrier there is that I want to throw words at paper and see the story perfect first time round. And the other barrier is I can’t find the masochistic joy in hundreds of rejections that every other writer assures me are natural.
Obviously what I need is to find joy in editing and being rejected. I’ll work on that particular gift.
The gift I really want is to be able to live comfortably with less. In a large part I am able to do so with ease. I don’t give a fig for fancy mobile phones, large televisions and cars. However I do note that the comfort of living with less is inevitably paired with having more. The more money people have, the more secure they are, and the less need they have for vast amounts of money to reassure themselves that they are secure by buying large TVs, more expensive mobile phones and big new cars.
All I need is a vast amount of money so that I can live with less. If I had millions I would buy one of those tiny houses that are all over the web at the moment, with the natty décor and cunningly arranged storage, and live happily ever after, maybe. I’d also buy a bunch of bigger houses for income, and like a psychotic economist, use that to prove that working less can be a way of getting by on less.
Birthday cake? There’s none of that today. I’m not a huge fan of sticky, sweet stuff. I had an idle thought that I might go out and buy myself a slice, but opted against it because of all the effort, and because I remembered I have the makings of a rare bacon and egg supper, which I may just share with my dog, on the principle that giving is joy as well, especially for my dog in this case.
I’d also like a couple of hours of good strong rain. Every wish list should come with something impossible, so that’s my wish for today.
What strikes me is that wanting less is a thing that should come with wealth. Sure, there are people who buy gold-plated bidets, but once you have enough, too much can become a burden. It is only, really people who have less who want more.
I have yet to find an economic theory that looks at the idea of finding a median comfort zone, where enough is enough, actually. But I know it is out there, a reality if not measured. A good example of this is the plateaus that major mobile device manufacturers are experiencing.
How often is it possible to be excited by the latest phone with a 0.2 inch increment in screen size, and a millimeters shaved off the depth of the thing? There is a demand for less, probably measured by some coefficient of shrinking demand and declining spend. It’s probably observable in multiple product groups.
Less is more. Far more.