Wednesday, February 22, 2012


In a  favorite book of mine, two of the characters discuss how they define luxury. Not fur coats or fancy cars or showy jewels for either of them. Their lists were of qualities, characteristics, experiences, not things.

Her list of luxury integrated all five senses at the same time. Like digging your toes into the warm sand at the beach, looking out across the span of the ocean, smelling the seaweedy air, tasting the salt on your tongue, and hearing the waves pounding, the seagulls screeching. Or sitting on a slope of freshly mowed grass, clinking the ice in your cold glass, and gazing out across the distant hills.

His list was about contrast. Being out on a brisk, damp day and coming home chilled to the bone, to step into a hot, steamy bath. Or, being at the race track all day, hearing the cars rev and race, stopping at a cathedral on the way home and "listening to the silence."

"How awful it would be to crave for sables and Rolls-Royces and huge vulgar emeralds. Because I'm certain that once you got them, they would become diminished, simply because they were yours. And you wouldn't want them any more, and you wouldn't know what to do with them."
                                                                           -Penelope Keeling (character)
                                                                           -Rosamunde Pilcher, The Shell Seekers

This got me thinking. What are my luxuries? I have no desire for furs and jewels either. I'll take a sweatshirt over a fur coat any day. My luxuries would center on plants and books. But still things. It was more challenging than I thought to get away from the hold of things.

The afternoon sunlight streaming through the petals of my orchids. That is luxury. Time to read and learn and enjoy and listen to developing characters, sitting in a comfy chair, the sunlight shining through the window. That is luxury. An afternoon with the kids and grandkids, playing games, talking and laughing, together. That is luxury.

What are your luxuries? What do you think of? Does this make you think of ways you can travel lighter?


  1. Great question, Maureen. Sitting on the beach watching waves, walking down a country road are luxuries. And absolutely, time spent casually with family. Over the years I've received lovely gifts of jewelry. But I'm doing good to remember to put a simple pair of earrings on! The rest languish in the jewelry box. I appreciate them and the spirit they've been given in, but I don't see them as luxuries. (kind of makes me feel bad to say that - wouldn't want to hurt feelings!)

  2. Seems to have to do with priorities. It is OK to wear and enjoy the jewelry, of course. But, to enjoy the simpler things as luxuries gives us a deeper enjoyment of them. Does that make sense?