What is Luxury?
For By Invitation Only
“Luxury: free or habitual indulgence in or enjoyment of comforts and pleasures
in addition to those necessary for a reasonable standard of well-being”
There is a country house in the Lake District of England, sitting high on a sheep-speckled hill overlooking the still, reflective waters of Lake Windermere. In the tip-top tower of this house is a room with a window that opens out to welcome in the perfume of late summer roses and freshly mown hay, where the only sounds one hears is the wind swishing through emerald cedars and the tintinnabula of cow bells as their wearers make their way home at vespers. I have slept in that room, in a bed so high, so deep, that I felt like a princess of Oz….
In the furthermost islands of Scotland, closer in distance to Norway than Britain, there is a yarn shop several streets from the sea where every colour in the palette lines the walls in a rainbow of wool. The mind simply boggles at the possibilities of pattern and design within these walls. I have gathered up armload of skeins here in much the same way a child gathers up candy in a candy shop and flown home to await the arrival of my choices … so many skeins they had to be shipped over….
On a tiny side street in the heart of Chelsea there is a bookshop where the books are piled in stacks of unrelated subject and name, one up next to another as though gathering together for conversation the way strangers sometimes do whilst waiting for something to happen. In this shop I have occasionally seen one special book, as one always does in bookshops such as this, shining as though singularly lit to catch my attention alone. And I have stood on a stool and stretched out to retrieve it, slightly dizzy at the good fortune of my find, and held it close like the treasure it is as I’ve made my way down the stairs to secure my purchase…..
Like Mrs. Dalloway on the morning of her famous party, I have entered dimly lit flower shops to the magical sound of a tinkling bells, waiting for my eyes to adjust in the close, humid air before being knocked off kilter by the unseen hand of beauty as the colours of a thousand flowers coalesced into one glorious tapestry right before my eyes. I have wandered home in absolute bliss, carrying as many bouquets as I could hold…..
Without doubt, these experiences have represented luxury to me though I can think of no other word quite as subjective as that one. Luxury. What is truly luxurious to me might well be considered a trivial squander to you. For instance, I have ridden in a limousine twice in my life and have felt like a complete, conspicuous nincompoop both times, though I can name people for whom that form of conveyance would seem the height of luxury. When traveling, I can be, and often am, perfectly content with yogurt, fruit and biscuits for dinner, something that would horrify those gourmands of my acquaintance. One man’s luxury is so often another’s trifle.
One’s idea of luxury changes over time as well. For instance, I am increasingly reluctant to spend my money on expensive frocks but, as illustrated in the paragraphs above, I am most liberal when it comes to books, yarn, flowers and travel. No doubt I would spend my last dollar on flowers.
Truth is, to me there is nothing as luxurious as a sparkling clean house, redolent of baking bread and gardenias, where soft music plays and furry dogs nap, where teetering stacks of books and a half-finished cashmere sweater await my attention as I sit at my table planning my next journey to Scotland. After all, as I explained in my last post, my tastes do run along the same lines as the home-loving characters in Wind in the Willows.
I would so love to hear what you consider to be a luxury worthy of indulgence.
An Hermes bag? Or a new pair of Wellies?
A gourmet kitchen? Or a summer month in Greece?
Find more posts on this subject HERE.
Find more posts on this subject HERE.