Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Enemy of Capitalism

With the arrival of the new iPhone, I find myself musing about whether or not I should get one. Yeah, it's got a better screen. And two cameras. And video chat, albeit only iPhone to iPhone and only on WiFi. It's pretty cool.

On the other hand, there's nothing wrong with my current iPhone. Which is also my third iPhone, after my first had a cybernetic aneurysm and my second picked a fight with the tile floor in my kitchen. I really and truly don't need anything other than the phone I have. I find myself thinking that way about a whole bunch of the objects I use.

My eight-year old Honda minivan, for example. It's got around 90,000 miles on the clock. It's got a few dings in it. But it still fits our family plus three. It still carries around a crazy amount of stuff. It's not as efficient as I'd like, but it's just as practical today as it was back in 2002 when it rolled off a factory line in Ohio. It was wonderfully designed and engineered, and I will, after cleaning and vacuuming it out, sometimes just marvel at what an amazing job folks did creating something so useful. It's also comfortable, riding smoother and quieter than the shiniest new Coupe DeVille that ever sat on a dealer's lot when I was a kid. I have no need for anything better.

Then there's my motorcycle. It's ten years old. It's got about 38,000 miles on it, which is a whole bunch for a sportbike. It is, shall we say, "cosmetically imperfect," at least as much so as the guy who rides it. It's reaching the point where it can be accurately described as a ratbike. In a brief fit of madness earlier this year, I thought I might be rid of it. But then I rode it again, on a beautiful Spring day. As air snarled through the intake, and the bike sprang forward, I realized that in every way, it meets my motorized two-wheeled transportation needs. I do not need to replace it. More importantly, I have no desire to replace it.

Our house? Much the same. I am content with it. While there are always things that need to be replaced, and things that can be improved upon, I find that with most of the things in my life, I am content with what I have so long as it works.

I fear that might make me dangerous. Lingering contentment, a pervasive sense of being at peace, and quiet, lasting happiness are the enemies of global capitalism.