Sunday, November 9, 2014

It's Tempting

What you find irresistible changes over your lifetime, somewhat.  I, like many others, could not for years resist buying a beckoning book or record, but then I stopped cold like a successful ex-smoker when I realized enough is enough, already.  Other favorites will never leave your desirous gaze, but you can leave it at the gazing stage.  If I had a nickel for each time I've resisted the siren song of the bakery, I could probably well indulge other wants.  I wonder if one descriptor of character is how you act around cookies... Dark chocolate has grown on me to where now I can't resist it nearly as well as that scone.  It's always something unless you're internally as content as a Buddhist monk. 

Sometimes it works to give in to that tempting something just once in a while, which allows you to enjoy the warm feeling of virtue also, knowing you're in control of the situation and not the other way around.  Little things are easier, as such a lapse is easier to correct.  Let's say you have been jonesing for a boat or motorcycle or vacation condo so long that once it's affordable you stuff caution in the closet and make the plunge.  The best way to prevent this scenario is to admit that the law of hedonistic adaptation is like all those other laws of the world or physics, that is, it's always there and will hit you with an unpleasant dose of reality soon enough.  The thrill of finally possessing that shining something you've been wanting fades quickly.  You must either trade up to regain that feeling or continue the excess in some other way; hedonism, or feeding your desires, is a process that waxes and wanes like the moon, and eludes your grasp just like that silver satellite in the night sky.  Remind yourself before any decision that anything you own owns you more.

Will Rogers said that the road to success is dotted with many tempting parking spaces.  Funny, today we walked through a parking lot next to a tony golf resort, and the whelled hardware on display was any materialist's fever dream.  I was curious, but not envious.  A rear-engine Ferrari had its window down and the owner's EasyPass just lying on the console.  Did he really just take his quarter-million dollar possession so casually?  No doubt he had several other steeds in the stable. We also saw a super-high-end Mercedes, an S 550 (there were a few other letters, but I forget).  That brought a wry smile, as I'd read a remarkably frank article about S-series Mercedes recently, in which the author detailed the insanely complicated and expensive technology contained therein.  For example, you can't jump someone else's car from its battery, as its setup is so exotic that if you do so, you will short out your S's electrical system.  He also mentioned that the ignition switch assembly, which does not fail on your affordable Toyota, will probably do so on the Merc and cost you $500 for the part alone.  The foregoing is a wordy way to make the point that giving into expensive, blingy temptations is just like the mouse going for that piece of cheese in the trap.  It's going to cost you big time.  It's not going to be as much fun, by a long shot, as you thought it would be.  Walk away.

But you can give yourself a hall pass once in a while, if your house is in order.  Or rather, if your house is paid off, with no other debts.  That is the essense of freedom -- owning yourself and your assets outright -- and I think freedom to do or not do what is right for you, not what is temporarily distracting for you but really right for the lender, the corporation or the employer, ought to be the goal of your efforts in life. 

I can't say (like most of you, admit it) that I had any clear idea about what was worth getting obligated to when I was younger.  A hard road it is, Yoda would say, to learn only by experience.  A little quality insight earlier on in life's journey would have been great.  At least we can say the lessons eventually penetrated our hard heads, and temptations are seen for exactly what they are now, and a bad bargain is quite obvious.  A $100,000 loan on an RV when you're 68 years old?  A boat (they're the only thing just as bad as an RV -- well, and an airplane)?  An $800,000 house with about 70 windows and a lot the size of a big tarp like we saw next to the golf course today, built out of the same crappy materials as everything else today?  A car that depreciates 50% in five years, and costs as much as that boat to maintain and insure?  Those baked goods may ruin your health eventually, but choosing one of the above will put you under a lot faster.  Better work 70 hours a week, and lie and cheat, so you can get into one of those deals prisons. 

If you spend your days in the house of Desire, you will be his slave.

I almost bought one just like this once and am so glad I didn't.  Boy, was it fun to test drive, though.


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