Confessions of a Small-Time Hedonist

I admit it, I have no grand raison d’être, no time for minimalism, asceticism, or self-denial.  I am a hedonist, through and through, a born romantic with a taste for the extravagant and the exotic.  Also, something of a layabout, truth be told.  We each have, at best, only a short stroll between cradle and grave, so why not make that brief journey as scenic, carefree, and memorable as possible? Mission statements are exhausting.

Granted, the relentless pursuit of pleasure and adventure may not be the foundation of a weighty, meaningful life.  What will my legacy be?  How am I contributing to the betterment of the human race?  Don’t I want my life to actually mean something? These sorts of questions occasionally occur to me between negronis.  I confess that I have no adequate answers to them.  Overthinking is not one of my many, many faults.  The best I can say is that I love my family and friends, and I do my best to treat everyone I meet with kindness and respect.  I know it’s not tremendously impressive; feel free to judge me—I promise you won’t ruin my day.

The more essential question, to my mind, is how to satisfy all my wagyu and champagne tastes on a hot dog and President’s Choice cola budget?  Part of that answer, I have found, lies in making choices that prioritize the things that are most important to me.  Experiences, for example, mean much more to me than material possessions.  I would prefer to go out for sushi or spring for a theatre ticket than buy a video game or upgrade my steam-driven computer.  I have no use for an expensive wristwatch, and I would much rather drive a cheap car and live in a small home than forsake a camping trip to Iceland or a pub crawl in Dublin.  When I get wherever I am going, I will eat where the locals eat, and two-star hotels or a tent are all the accommodation I need.

And when (as is often the case) there is no cash for dining, live entertainment, or travel—barely any funds available at all, beyond putting food on the table and keeping the furnace going—I gladly indulge my sweet tooth for spectacle and adventure in the extravagant worlds crafted by the creativity of others.  I may not have a wine cellar, or even enough money for a bottle of wine, but I have a well-stocked bookshelf, so I can wander freely across the persian carpets of Gatsby’s Long Island mansion, or marvel at the alien, spice-rich sands of Dune.  When I don’t have enough room on my credit card for plane tickets to Manhattan, I can still put my recording of Sonny Rollins’ 1961 performance at the Village Vanguard on my turntable and, with the exercise of a little imagination, I am transported across space and time to that smoke-filled bar.

Food, friendship, travel, art.  A lifetime of small, indelible moments feels to me like a life well-spent.