I just discovered a new favorite quote:
“An extravagance is something your spirit thinks is a necessity.” - Bern Williams
Sometimes we can be rather selfish and demanding about our wants. We come up with reasons to justify them, often resorting to claiming those wants as needs. I think this has diminished the true meaning of extravagance. We hardly know what that is when it’s no longer anything special. There’s a difference between filling the needs of greed and jealousy, versus filling the needs of the soul.
To illustrate- When one of my friends accomplishes something ordinary but pleasing, we joke “would you like a cookie?” We’re poking fun at the desire for reward (and acknowledging the achievement at the same time). As adults, we realize we don’t need a cookie every time we complete a task or follow the rules. Feeding pride is not feeding the soul.
In contrast, here’s an example that hopefully shows how an ordinary cookie can be about feeding the soul and not just the chocolate craving.
I was annoyed when I had to specifically make a trip to grad school just to hand deliver a document. The prof refused to make any arrangements to accommodate anyone’s schedule. It just wasn’t a factor in his decision making process. So, of course, on the day I set aside to leave work early (ticking off my boss significantly), it snowed. Snowed all day, and made walking challenging enough to fuel my aggravation.
So I’m walking down the hall to his office and I see a sign on the Academic Advising office.
“Hey, you! Come in here! I have something for you!”
So I’m standing in the hall, breathless, covered in snow, cold, and weighted down with crutches, coat, bag, etc. I was trying to figure out this sign because it had taken me off guard and I must admit I was a bit slow on the uptake at this point. Just then, this lady opens the door and smiles.
“You look like you need a cookie.”
I don’t think I said anything. I don’t think I could.
“Hang on, I’ll bring them out to you so you can choose.”
Seconds later, she reappeared with a platter of cookies. As I selected a chocolate chocolate chip variety, she explained that they had decided to offer them as treats to all the students because it was finals week. By then I found my voice, and I hope I successfully communicated to her my gratitude and some sense of the degree to which I did, in fact, need a cookie.