thoughts from seneca on essentials and luxuries28 Dec 2016
“That race of men to whom taking care of the body was a straightforward enough matter were, if not philosophers, something very like it. The things that are essential are acquired with little bother; it is the luxuries that call for toil and effort. Follow nature and you will feel no need of craftsmen. It was nature’s desire that we should not be kept occupied thus.” — seneca, letter xc (90)
yet again, seneca’s thinking bolsters something i’ve thought but haven’t written down. or maybe it’s full-on stoic philosophy, but i hesitate to attribute it to stoic philosophy in general because i hear seneca was an edge member of the group. anyways, the older i get and the more people i visit, the more astounded i am at the amount of supplies people have to live. creams and washes and pills and supplements and more.
i hope that someday sooner rather than later, people can see all this stuff we’re using and stop it. aging is normal. the marketplace of goods and services designed to slow or prevent aging is superfluous. if you’re not getting enough vitamins via your diet, why not change your diet? taking vitamin supplements so you can continue to consume a diet that doesn’t meet your needs seems silly.
all this reminds me a little bit of an article i saw the other day about the declining sales of fabric softener. the article, which seemed pretty tongue-in-cheek to me (and decidedly less tongue-in-cheek than the earlier wall street journal article that spawned the media conversation it seems), pinned the declining sales on millenials. and, maybe this is too prideful of me, but i’m 100% happy to take on that blame. i think millenials are rightly seeing the excess that was marketed and sold to our parents and rejecting it. maybe in its heyday fabric softener did something perceived as valuable. but that time is past and we’re over it.
of course, there are always exceptions to these things, but seneca’s point remains. i think the essentials of survival require little of individuals and society to procure. it’s only when we try to get fancy that we (consumerist capitalism?) take shit out of control.
spell-check, link-finding, & formatting: 9:00