Friday, January 09, 2009

Enjoying Life

What follows is a 2-part blog on enjoyment. The first part is about enjoyment of things that you buy, like a fancy car, stereo or computer setup. The second part is about things that you enjoy that really have nothing to do with money. Enjoy...

Can you enjoy a $2000 stereo?

I have a stereo that costs about $1000 and I've had it for years. I have extracted enough enjoyment out of it already that if it disappeared, I'd have no complaints. What would I buy to replace it? Considering I spend 8-10 hours a day listening to music, you might think I'd get some nice new gear.

I like to break down my enjoyment of stereos into several areas of concern:
- Cost of the article based on my budget
- The setting in which I get to use the article
- How much usage I could realistically expect
- My experience in the particular area


Like I said, I have a $1000 stereo, and would like to replace it with one worth about $1500. In order to enjoy such an expensive stereo, I'd have to be pretty comfy with the $$$, or the other factors would have to carry a lot of weight. Would I go into debt to buy a nice stereo, not likely. Budget-wise, I'd top out at around $500 right now. I don't see this changing much in the next few years.


In order to enjoy a good stereo, you have to be able to listen to it. Not necessarily at a loud volume, altho that is the fun part of a big stereo. I mean do you have a nice room that lets you place the speakers properly. Are you in a neighbourhood when a few extra decibels won't have the cops at your door? Do you live with someone who does not want to hear your choice of music and thus you can only play the stereo when they are not around. Do you listen to music that can show off the range of your setup, or it is all Sousa music.


This is the one that gets me. I spend many hours listening to music, but most of it on a $50 radio in the kitchen, a $150 stereo in my room or on my computer at work. The big $1000 beast is currently reserved for special occasions a few times a week. Now in the past, I used to run that thing all day. My kids tell stories of me shipping them off to bed, then me cracking a few beers and blasting (literally) the tunes for a few hours.


I have heard stereos at $1500, $2000, $4000 and beyond. Realistically, for me, I'd top out at $1500. After that, I wouldn't get much out of it. Now, let me have the thing for a few years, let me listen to it for hours a days and offer me a stereo worth twice as much and sure, I'd be ready for it. But me right now, $1500 would make me very happy indeed.

So, you have $2000 burning a hole in your pocket and you want to buy a new stereo. Go for it. Myself, if I was looking for a new stereo, this is how I would break it down:
- Price $500
- Setting $2000
- Usage $300
- Experience $1500
I'd buy the $300 stereo, because realistically, I would enjoy that more than the other options.

Can you enjoy a $0.60 can of beans?

It has been argued that all pleasure is basically release from tension. Sounds simplistic, but think of hunger, sexual pleasure, having a good dump, getting that job after blowing the interview. We are simple beings. My questions is this: What does it take to enjoy a $0.60 can of beans? The word I use is contrast. What situation would you have to find yourself in that the can of beans provides a lot of enjoyment?

My buddy Doug and I decide to hitchhike to PEI in April. We're probably 21 or so. Being typical young people, we have few plans, clothes not meant for the season, little money and just a desire to go somewhere. We hitchhike to the PEI ferry on a Friday night after work. Our last ride is in a car chock-full of young people. No back seat. Literally. Just whatever is under a basic backseat. We are late for the last ferry. We arrive in time to actually jump onto the ferry as it leaves the wharf. I'm sure that is not allowed these days. We have to leap across 2-3 feet of open ocean water. Mucho fun already!

Off the ferry, no one picks us up and we walk for a few hours to the middle of nowhere and sleep in an abandoned car by a garage. Cold night, no food, no blankets, no booze, no drugs. Hey! Even more fun. The next morning we hike to Charlottetown, schmooze a bit, acquire a few groceries and hike out to the beach on our way to Summerside. Start up a little fire, sit on the cliffs and enjoy, really enjoy a $0.60 can of beans. One of the best meals in my life. How is that?

I use the term contrast. Sitting on the cliff, the view is beautiful. I'm with a good friend. We spent a tough, cold night. The sun is out. I am starving. The beans are tasty and hot. Like I said, we are simple beings.

I am still a runner. The advantage of being older is that it feels even better when you stop. Of course, the disadvantage is that the buzz lasts an even shorter time and I'm in some sort of pain the rest of the time. No idea what level of pain non-runners put up with. Don't really care. Running has so many advantages. On Saturday mornings, a bunch of us run, then head to a little diner for a nice, greasy breakfast. Guilt-free, thanks to the running.

Wrapping your hands around a piping hot coffee, with pancakes, eggs and bacon on the way is truly one of life's greatest pleasures. The staff knows us, we're rambunctious and whiny, but we we tip well. The conversations flows pretty good. Some of us only see each other this once a week.

When I look back over the time that I spend, I find that the things that I really enjoy usually involve friends and family, don't cost much and involve some sort of contrast, like not seeing someone for awhile or finishing a long run in the rain.

Keep that in mind when you decide to spend some serious cash, hoping to generate some enjoyment. I am a Gonzo, and we are famous for manual-powered sports. The guy who spends mucho dollars to tool about the woods on a fancy ATV with his friends could probably extract the same enjoyment with a mountain bike.

Think about it. Enjoyment is not something you buy, tho it can be earned.


Delta Dave said...

Was that 2 people on 1 can of beans? At least I know what to feed you when you visit.

Delta Dave said...

I have difficulty with 'delayed gratification.' For 60 cents plus a little honey or maple syrup I can 'root and toot' with my beans - today!