“It is preoccupation with possession, more than anything else, that prevents men from living freely and nobly.” – Bertrand Russell
I really like ice cream. My favorite treat is a warm brownie (thin, slightly under baked) under several scoops of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. Mmm, I can taste it now.
But what if I knew that for every bowl of ice cream I enjoyed I would lose 1% of my eyesight? My initial response would be to swear off ice cream completely – my vision is way too important to throw away on a short-lived pleasure.
I suspect after awhile I would wonder if it were really true – does ice cream really cause me to lose vision, or did someone make that up to keep me from getting fat? Eventually, I would try it out. I would eat some ice cream and then look at some words to see if they were blurry. I’m guessing I would see just fine – 1% wouldn’t make that much difference. But just to be safe, I would only have ice cream once a month.
After a year of ice cream that would amount to a 12% loss in vision, I think I would notice a difference. In a blurry street sign I would see some consequences of my indulgence. The eye doctor would change my prescription and I would have to get new glasses. And then I would see clearly again.
In seeing clearly again I wonder if I would be tempted to eat just a little ice cream, since the consequences appear manageable. In fact, eating just a little ice cream would still leave me many years before losing my eyesight completely. Stronger prescriptions, laser eye surgery, and eventually a walking stick or seeing eye dog … I’m adaptable, I think I could still make life work.
Sometimes I wonder if all the little purchases we make throughout life begin to add up against us in ways we don’t fully comprehend. We purchase. We collect. We organize. Soon, we move to a bigger house with bigger closets, a bigger basement, and a bigger garage. And while we believe that we can successfully manage all of our possessions without intrusion into our life, I wonder if we’ve actually sacrificed far more than we realize…