Is this vanity?
“It is vain to do with more what can be done with less.”
– William of Occam
A friend of mine rattled off this quote the other day. I can’t really even remember what we were talking about, but that phrase has just stuck with me like a catchy tune playing over and over again in my head.
After spending a little time chewing on this, I can’t help but feel incredibly vain. Could this 14th century friar and logician be right?
Ok, maybe I really just don’t like calling it “vain”. I resonate with and appreciate the idea of simplifying, and I agree that more is not always better, but isn’t it better in some cases? Or am I just trying to justify my own vanity?
If I buy a Chevy 572 Big Block and build the hot rod I’ve been kicking around… is this vanity?
If I put off-road gear on my truck, but never drive it off road… is this vanity?
If I drive hard to make more money so that I can “have a better life” and enjoy the American dream… is this vanity?
Is it wrong or completely hallow to have and enjoy plenty? I don’t really think it is, but I can acknowledge that having more than you need can easily distract you from what’s really important and meaningful… and can even limit your ability to experience joy.
For me, when I manage to strip away my vain cravings, when I release my grip on the things I’ve convinced myself that I “need”, I do feel refreshed. It’s as if a fog has lifted. It’s almost like that feeling you get when your ears suddenly pop and release that little bit of water that was trapped after a long day of swimming or playing in the lake.
Ahhhh… now I can hear.
I don’t think I’m going to beat myself up too much over my vanity tonight, but I believe that as I move towards simplicity I will be able to hear better and see better… and that can only help in my pursuit of a more clear sense of purpose.
Can you think of any ways you are doing with more what could be done with less?