A certain philosophy admonishes us to, in effect, “live for today, for tomorrow you may die.” Increasingly, I find myself accepting that philosophy’s premise. I do not subscribe to a related philosophy that excuses an utterly careless lifestyle that involves taking wild, unnecessary risks, but measured risks definitely have their place. One of those risks is abandonment of unchecked “rainy day thinking,” which involves the anticipation of potential financial problems. This sort of planning emerges either from experiences, stories about, or fears of financial ruin. The Great Depression is probably one of the most powerful and most recent experiences that prompted “rainy day thinking” in the extreme.
Do not save what is left after spending, but spend what is left after saving.
~ Warren Buffett ~
While saving money for a “rainy day” is wise, some of us tend to put too much emphasis on depriving oneself of satisfying experiences now in the fear that that circumstances might rob us of having such experiences later, unless one is prepared. That, in my changing view, unwise. The trick is to save proportionately to the intersection of one’s ability and one’s desires. Warren Buffett’s advice is sound; it is like a stop sign that requires us to stop and take action each time we reach that intersection.
We do not even know whether we will be here to enjoy experiences in the future. Or, if we survive into the future, we have no way of knowing whether we will be healthy enough to pursue experiences that, today, we might find appealing. Saving money so one can leave as much as possible to one’s beneficiaries is perhaps generous, but it is also uncharitable to oneself. There is a difference between frugality and miserliness. It may be a slight difference, but it’s there. My advice to myself: cut loose on occasion. Come to grips with the possibility, I tell myself sometimes, that I might outlive my money. If that happens, be prepared to make the end of life and the end of financial resources take place as close to simultaneously as possible. That is not to say one should buy a Corvette and charter a jet to Nova Scotia if that would mean taking an overdose of sleeping pills at the end of next week. But reasonable efforts should be made to enjoy life while maintaining adequate resources to keep happy for a sufficiently “long time.”
If you can afford it after you pay the bills and distribute some of your largesse to help people in need—take the vacation; buy the 1958 Chevy if you will derive long-term pleasure from it; buy the RV if if will become a significant part of your lifestyle; give generously to causes for social justice if that brings joy and meaning to your life. In other words, do with your money what matters to you. Do not wait until it’s too late. Do not put yourself in a position of looking back with regret that you did not pursue experiences that would have been fulfilling.
The preceding paragraphs were written as admonishments to myself, by the way. If they have meaning to others who may read them, all the better. Time will tell whether I heed my own advice.
Saturday was a good day. Two good friends stopped for a brief visit on their way to Fort Smith from Little Rock. They demonstrated their kindness and love by showing up with a bunch of cut tulips and a six-pack of Guinness Stout. We went to lunch at the Blue Elephant, where the food was pretty good and the service was laughable; our friends’ good sense of humor made the service tolerable.
Sunday was a good day, too. After the church service, where we were able to visit with many of our friends (but we missed seeing several), we accepted my sister-in-law’s invitation to come meet her cat-sitting charge, Judge. Judge is an extremely well-fed, enormously friendly, and exceptionally intelligent cat. Judge’s masters, who asked my SIL to look out after their feline family member, have a nice home with a nice television. Thanks to winning a bet with my girlfriend about the identity of one of the church service speakers (on video), before long we will have a television much like the one Judge’s family has. The television responds to voice commands (including responding to questions like “when will season 5 of Yellowstone be available?” and “what’s the weather forecast for Belgrade, Serbia?” and “what color emerges from mixing blue and yellow?”). And the television’s size convinced us that large screens deliver a far richer, more engaging experience than do smaller, 42-inch models. Personally, I am now hungering for an 85-inch television. [John, what have you said in the recent past about consumerism gone awry? What words have you used to describe avarice and greed? What kind of person do you want to be?]
Ambition is but avarice on stilts, and masked.
~ Walter Savage Landor ~
After a nice day, successfully avoiding work I should have been doing on the new house (if we’re ever going to be able to move in), my girlfriend took charge of the kitchen to make a delightful meal of salmon and green beans and apple/cabbage slaw. Then, we watched an episode or two (or was it more?) of the series, Pieces of Her on Netflix. We’re hooked. (I promise I’ll watch Last Tango in Halifax in the not-too-distant future. But I may have to come watch it at your house, Deanna). I have an enormously long list of films and series I want to watch; but I have to be in the right mood to watch any of them. Some require intense thought, if they are to be of value to me. Others require simply staring at the screen, receptive to being entertained. Still others appeal to my need for emotional prodding. And others probe issues that get at the core of my social consciousness. I want to watch them all. At the right times.
There should be terms that better describe romantic relationships. Girlfriend and boyfriend are grossly inadequate. And partner or companion or cohabitee or significant other are too clinical and cold, though modifier words can improve their suitability for describing a relationship. Lover is a bit too personal, on one hand, and somewhat flippant, on the other. Sweetheart harkens back to the clueless fifties and can call to mind dull, shallow innocence. Confidante may be close…but no cigar. Soulmate, too, may be getting near the right term, but…
Ladylove would work for me to describe girlfriend, but what is the corresponding term for boyfriend? So that probably would not work. I could turn to foreign languages: findanzata and fidanzato are Italian terms that might work, though I’ve already dismissed their English counterparts. I think I may settle on the Spanish term: mi novia, roughly translated into “my girlfriend,” sounds like a winner. Let’s see if I can stick to it.
But I can’t leave the subject without calling out a cultural anomaly: Women can speak about “my girlfriends” and we understand that they are referring to their friends who are female. But if men say “my boyfriends,” we assume they are referring to their gay sexual partners. And there, again, is an issue that should have long since been discarded in the waste-bin of history but remains there, sometimes hidden and sometimes blatant: many people remain uncomfortable even with acknowledging, much less accepting, homosexuality (thanks in large part, I think, to idiotic religious perspectives). But I’m getting away from my point: the English language is hypocritical. And unfriendly to certain concepts, like non-sexual relationships between males. We limit ourselves to terms like “pals” or just “friends,” whereas we could adopt and use terms that more completely describe them. There’s a word, used chiefly in the southwestern U.S., that describes friends: compadre. It’s a Spanish word that has been adopted for use in English; because our language is inadequate and we’re too lazy to create our own term. I’m happy with compadre. And I think it can be used to describe either male or female friends or both. Maybe I’ll adopt that term, too, to refer to all my friends, whether male or female. Except I still like mi novia for the woman living with me. And mi novio should work for her to describe me (if she chooses). Those two words could work for unmarried female and male couples, too.
Here I am, trying to solve the world’s linguistic missteps.
My Mexican brother sent me the text of an interview between Ezra Klein and Margaret Atwood, which appeared in the New York Times on Friday, March 25. The article, entitled, Margaret Atwood on Stories, Deception and the Bible, is quite long but extremely interesting. For those of you who might subscribe to the NYT, it’s well worth finding it and reading it. It is especially compelling reading, in my opinion, as we attempt to understand what is behind Russia’s war against Ukraine and what the long-term holds for that conflict and the planet at large.
For the last two days, I’ve made a breakfast of clementine segments, sliced avocado, sliced tomato, and small bits of feta cheese. The avocados are gone. I may revert to cereal (the old standby) this morning or poached eggs with toast. We have bacon and sausage, but it’s frozen and I do not feel like thawing it. One day soon, I will make a Japanese breakfast: miso soup, a tiny piece of pan-grilled salmon on a small bed of white rice, and some slices of radish and cucumber. At least that’s my version of a Japanese breakfast. My Chinese breakfast, pork congee, can be used for any meal at any time of day. But so can any meal from any culture; we just have to be sufficiently adventurous. And we have to overcome our usually irrational biases against eating certain things at certain times of day. It’s perfectly okay to have Pepsi and scrambled eggs at lunch. And coffee with milk and cereal for dinner is just fine. A ribeye steak and baked potato at breakfast would suit me just fine. After all, there exists and admonish that we ought to: “eat like a king at breakfast, like a prince at lunch, and like a pauper at dinner.” I’m game.
Today, I have two doctor appointments and I absolutely must do my income taxes. But at least we will have a nice evening with a friend. We’ll take her dinner and chat with her about all manner of “stuff.” And we will turn her swivel rocker upside down to get details on the manufacturer; we’d rather buy a chair like it than be forced to steal hers. 😉 I suppose we will end the evening with another episode or two of Pieces of Her. Life is good.
Hello, Patty! I am trying…and you are doing the same! You’re doing an especially fine job of it! You can teach me a lot…and I am your willing student! 😉
Good morning,John! Enjoy life…one day at a time! Looks to me like you’re doing a good job of it.