The Greater of Two Goods

March 7, 2010

A comment on a retirement blog got me thinking.  It was about how a person may want to live a freer mobile lifestyle in an RV or a boat, but at the same time they just bought a nice sofa set for the living room.  They believe that moving is not an option because it would mean giving up the new furniture.  The blogger’s point was the sofa set was holding them back from following their dreams.  In other words they are “owned by their stuff”.

I don’t think “owned” is the right word for it.  That person has made a choice without realizing it.  The choice to have the decked-out living room instead of living on a boat.

When I was younger I thought that all choices were between something good and something bad.  Do I keep the perfect condition blue shirt or the old green shirt with a hole in it?  Of course you keep the blue shirt because the other one is ripped.  But what if they are both in good condition?  A packrat will want to keep both because they are perfectly good.  The packrat mind doesn’t realize that real choices can be made between two good options.

The homeowner who dreams of a mobile life sees value in the freedom of living aboard a boat, and also values having a comfortable house.  Both choices are good.  It’s not that their life is being controlled by the furniture, just that the decision to stay in the house has been made.

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One Response to “The Greater of Two Goods”


  1. “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.”

    The natural fear of loss (or, sometimes, reduced gain) that we humans have can be a strong prison.


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