When you borrow money to buy a consumable product, you are instantly teetering atop the ultimate house of cards. You are getting yourself used to the rare luxury of your new toy, even while you are speeding up the treadmill you have to run upon even to get close enough to use it. This is why I laugh and cry with frustration at the absolute insanity of borrowing money for a car, and the fact that ninety percent of Americans do it.
Fortunately, there is a way to reconcile the ideal and the reality. You can dabble in luxury, without becoming a whining slave to it, just by understanding the concept that luxury is a drug.
When you wriggle yourself into the narrow nook of luxury, your perspective on the world, and your ability to survive and thrive in it, also constricts dramatically. Like any drug, it can be fun to indulge in occasionally. But to seek to constantly maximize luxury in all areas of your life to the limits of what you can afford? Pure insanity. Just as it would be insane for me to say, “Since I can afford it, I need to start taking drugs for as many of my waking hours as possible. Alternating shots of espresso and fine scotch all day, with hits from the bong every hour on the hour!”
Even more insane is for people with financial problems to seek out luxury and even buy it on credit – exactly like a man with a damaged liver reaching for the bottle of vodka while the surgeons are trying to perform a transplant.
So by all means, if you’re not tough enough to abstain totally, go ahead and dabble in luxury just as you might have some fun with the other bits of naughtiness. Think of it as part of an exploration of the full human experience: many luxury products are, after all, the culmination of the art and science and effort of your fellow humans. But approach it from a position of strength, rather than the whining dependence that most of your fellow rich people develop.
Luxury is best appreciated as a strong and interesting contrast to, rather than the fabric of, your daily life.
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