I love beautiful things. So do my clients. So does everyone I know. I go into homes every week that rival the best Village boutiques and the most well appointed Dumbo antique lofts. Living in New York City for the past 30 years has been wonderful and terrible. If you live on the Upper West Side, as I did for many years, going out for a morning walk was like being a kid in FAO Schwartz. The abundance of boutiques, full of handcrafted items from the global community, the small jewelry retailers with one-of-a-kind pieces, the amazing clothing boutiques are all outside your doorstep. Electronics suppliers have anything you saw in last month’s “Computer World” in the store, in stock ready for the taking. The street vendors are out year-round now; selling things you’ve never seen before and never will again, so buy one of each while you can. Let me stop now! Friends and neighbors, the rest of America subscribes to magazines, surfs the net and watches movies and television to see and experience second-hand the luxury offered in our beautiful town. Then, it spends lots of money to come here for just a brief moment to access all of the opulence we experience every day.
So, when we consider the expense of living in New York City, not only must we take into account covering the absolute necessities that translate into astronomical rents, unaffordable co-ops, pricey food and endless entertainment. We must also consider that we are living in Emerald City, Disney and every marketplace in the world all rolled into one and then carry on with daily life undistracted. In my own limited situation, I spent my youth in New York City spending the balance of all my paychecks on unusual, splendid items, which came into my home – and eventually left. Did I need any of them? No, I rarely needed anything I bought. Could I really afford to give my expendable income away on a regular basis? Well, what do you think?
The problem I have found in my quest for the best and brightest in the Big Apple is that there was always MORE. The beauty never lets up and what I get is always overshadowed by the next wonderful thing that catches my eye. Maybe not the next day or even the next week but soon enough I’ll be lusting after the latest mobile device, sweater or piece of jewelry.
After a while, it became evident that I would have to curb my insatiable appetite for “eye candy” or forgo ever having a home or a retirement fund. How did I do this? Well, I started to consider the fact that I have a limited capacity to enjoy the beauty I collect and with which I surround myself. The more I get, the harder it is to see and experience what I have. There is only so much time and energy to look at, wear, care for and experience all the great stuff you own. I also notice that in foregoing buying more and keeping only what I really love, somehow increases my enjoyment.
I also have examined the real elements of beauty that I seek in my acquisitions. One is color. I love rich colors – they make me happy. I finally figured out I can actually look at the sky on a beautiful day or the fall foliage in the park to get just the boost I need. Or even when window-shopping, instead of thinking about how a dress would look on me (when I have a very nice one that is quite similar in the closet at home) I can focus on the color and the pattern. As long as I remember that I already have everything I need and want I can even go into the store and pick up that dress, examine the texture of the fabric, see how it’s sewn, and maybe even try it on. Then, I walk out without a shopping bag, feeling somehow enriched. Yes, there’s always the option to buy. But it’s no longer an imperative. As long as I leave “I want” out of the equation I can really enjoy everything this Eden has to offer.
Beauty is everywhere. Revel in it – just don’t try to gather it all up and hold onto it. You only have two arms. Hold onto, love, use and share what serves you best. Then, from a distance, enjoy the rest.