What A Wonderful Lot Of Things…

Socrates was said to have watched the procession of a rich man through the market place with all his goods accompanying him and to have remarked:

” What a lot of things there are that a man can do without . ”

I think he was quite right, but as he was a better philosopher than I, he could manage his acquisitiveness better. In my case I still have desires for some goods and services. These can be got or not, and that can affect my happiness. Soc would possibly frown on this but he isn’t round my place all that often.

I might get his approval regarding riches in another way – I find as I grow older that I can become curious about the possession or use of things but can satisfy that curiosity without actually having the goods – or at least without having them long.

I test cameras out as part of my writing job – also lenses, accessories, lights, etc. This is on a weekly basis as I try to find topics to write about. I’ve had some pretty expensive gear pass through my hands for a week at a time – and have been able to see whether the reality of it matches any part of the advertising hype. There is a responsibility to return it undamaged, of course, and the expectation that I will say something nice – or at least encouraging – about it. I’m relieved that I do not have any obligation to like it or desire it for myself.

And there are many occasions where I do not. I compare it to the equipment I normally use and in many cases find it to be less useful, comfortable, or practical. I can heave a great internal sigh of relief as it goes back onto the storeroom shelf and tick it off my ” desires ” list. Not exactly Socratic practice, but the result is the same.

Sometimes it works the other way, but my purse has the final say and it most often says ” No “.

Note that this is just one division of consumer goods. Other things like clothing, furniture, art, etc. do not even get a look-in. I am warm and dry in clean clothing, inside my own house and that is all I want. I do confess to a small desire for some of the fancier motor cars, but I suspect that if I were to drive them they would not really live up to their price. My Suzuki does.

And as far as the other appurtenances of wealth – gold, jewels, expensive food and drink, exotic travel, entertainment,etc…I am absolutely in line with Socrates.  These items pass my personal radar without registering a blip.

Small confession of sin: I do like book stores. And hobby shops. But in these I restrict my desires to the economic goods and leave the expensive ones for others. And I have just as much fun with what I can afford.


The B List – My Own Mental Rubik’s Cube


The B list – a document containing things I want to do – is taking shape in Pages here on the computer. I have used one of the proprietory templates to set it out – more for the art of the thing than for efficiency. It is just a bullet list, but without the primers. We shall have to wait and see whether I can muster up enough propellant to actually fire anything off.

I can say at the outset that the list might have contained a lot more things but in the last 40 or so years I have actually done a tonne of stuff already. Making the list has pointed out how blessed I have been in this, and if nothing other than a sense of gratitude comes from it, I shall have been rewarded. The good thing about the B list is it is not a place that you have to list any regrets – all the items are desires. If I am honest with myself, they will be honest desires. ( If I have dishonest desires I can enter federal politics…)

Ever make one of these lists? Did yours include possessions that you wanted to own – or relationships you wanted to experience? I am surprised to find that, by and large, mine does not. The only product that appears on it amounts to no more than $ 300-$400 and I suspect it is the building and operation rather than the possession that attracts me. My relationships satisfy me now, and I don’t appear to lust after anyone in particular. All my friends are safe.

What does recur is the desire to go to certain places, and to see certain things – humble things. The highlights of the world do not seem to be for me – my wishes operate at a lower level. They do not take me to dangerous nor to expensive places. As an aside, I can be horrified by the price list for food in a local hotel but I can’t tell you whether that is founded on high local prices or miserliness. I have been known to pass up the opportunity to eat when the price surpassed that of a tank of petrol or a hardbound book.

The encouraging thing about having a modest B list is that it might actually match my means – I may be able to do many of the things on it. Prior life had more money in it that exists now, and some expensive desires were satisfied then. As I rarely re-visit my pleasures, I can be glad that they are done and dusted. The memories are free. Now I can concentrate on simpler things and the utilization of everything that has been accumulated. If I can find a use for dust bunnies from under the bed, I think that I can be happy well into next century.