in: Advice, Character, Sunday Firesides

Sunday Firesides: Life Is for Living

In the classic Aesop’s fable of the ant and the grasshopper, the ant works through the summer, storing up food for the winter, while the grasshopper spends his days making music. When the colder months arrive, the grasshopper starves, while the ant lives comfortably off his cache.

Yet, one does wonder if the ant did not experience another kind of hunger himself — pangs of yearning for all the warm, sunshine-filled fun he missed while toiling underground. 

Frugality, a drive to accumulate resources and a reluctance to spend them down, makes for an excellent approach to economics, to budgeting and household management. But as a life philosophy, as an overarching ethos, it is greatly impoverished. 

While parsimoniously focusing on building one’s security and preparing for a potential rainy day can be prudent, it can also lead to the worst kind of waste. 

Vacation days held onto, in case they’re needed, until the arrival of the new year, when they disappear forever. 

An expensive sweater rarely put on, to make it last, until after only a few wearings, it goes out of style.

Expressions of affection carefully rationed out, to not take a romance too fast or spoil a child, until the relationship turns to ashes.

Retirement savings hoarded up, until the account holder dies, right along with his dream of traveling the world. 

Living a flourishing, fulfilling life requires mastering the balance between some of the trickiest tensions of human existence.

Anticipating a coming winter, without neglecting to bask in the glow of an eternal summer.

Cultivating the field of one’s resources, without waiting until after the harvest to start enjoying its fruits.

Laboring with insect-like industry, without becoming a music-deprived drone.

Compiling one’s reserves, without ever forgetting that —

Money is for spending. 

Clothes are for wearing.

Love is for giving.

Life is for living. 

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