Want vs. need, part deux

Yesterday, S was delighted to discover Groundhog Day was on. Unfortunately (for him) the movie was over. I liked it well enough when I saw it back in 1993, but have never felt compelled to return to it. S tells me that Buddhists tend to be fans, because it’s essentially a dramatization of a basic tenant of Buddhism, which is that the source of unhappiness is desire, and fulfillment in life comes when we let go of the things we desire and embrace a life of service to others.

Disclaimer: that was a bad paraphrase. Second disclaimer: everything I know about Buddhism is derived from pop culture and the Tao of Pooh. But. There is something very sensible about the idea that letting go of the objects and material things that we (I) feel compelled to accrue is a pathway to peace. I do in fact waste mental energy and time thinking about things I have no means to acquire (see below).

I am also put in mind of David Foster Wallace’s commencement speech (available as little book, This is Water), in which he points out that the things that we choose to worship in life will always be a source of unhappiness (terrible oversimplification, but, for example, worship youth/beauty, doomed to feel old/unattractive).

So. Is there a way to reconcile the life of a spiritual aesthete with a secular/materialistic worldview? Yes! I have the answer. It is this: proceed as usual until the age of 65 or 70. Then sell everything, move abroad, and live simply. Done. [wipes hands]


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