Sunday, October 25, 2009

Living a Life of Luxury: Money Free

The word wealth comes from the Old English weal, which means well-being. Being wealthy simply means you’re doing well, so you don’t need money to pull it off.

This central theme of the forthcoming Broke is Beautiful was well expressed by Molly McDermott, who lost her job in the "luxury industry" due to the recession.

McDermott had an epiphany about the real meaning of "luxury" while watching the teenagers on the television program Gossip Girls carrying $10,000 designer handbags. These young people have not earned the right to carry such expensive items, she argues, because they could not possibly know what they are holding. (See a past article on this blog for more on how unrealistic television is about Americans' purchasing power.)

"Real luxury is about knowing what you are holding," she writes, "Not how much something costs, but understanding the time, passion, materials, research, development and dreaming that went into it. This is the lesson we should all take away from this financial mess–the ability to see things not just for their monetary value, but for their worth."

Incidentally, if you're looking for a really unique take on luxury, visit Podictionary, the etymology podcast. Charles Hodgson explains that the roots of luxury are from Latin. Luxus meant “abundance” and “sumptuous enjoyment.” Nothing too surprising there, but read on:

The fact is that although in Latin luxus meant “sumptuous enjoyment” the Latin precursor to luxury actually meant “sinful enjoyment.” So as Latin devolved into French and Italian and Spanish their words evolving from Latin’s luxuria mean “lust” and “debauchery.”

And so it was that when luxury first appeared in English from Old French in 1340 it didn’t mean sipping Champagne and swanning around in fur coats, it meant slipping between the sheets with someone you weren’t supposed to.

Gives new meaning to the expression "lap of luxury" doesn't it?