"I can resist everything but temptation." - Oscar Wilde
Bob asked me to write about my guilty pleasures, which confounded me a little because I don't think I have anything in particular that fits that bill. But it started me thinking about what "guilty pleasures" means and I think it has a lot to do with decadence.
An online dictionary defines decadence in different ways including decay and moral turpitude. The one I'm focusing on is "unrestrained or excessive self-indulgence", which sounds rather negative, but I don't think it really is.
Everyone I know is part of the 99% - we're mostly just getting by. Some are living on fixed and limited incomes and at or below the poverty line. Those of us living with HIV are the gamut of incomes: from those who are wealthy to those who are living on the street. The people I know who are not positive are in the same boat. Some have money and others are scraping by.
But being poor doesn't mean you can't find some smidgen of decadence in your life. And I think there's a difference between "poverty" and "poverty mentality". Poverty is certainly a real thing - we can count it by levels of income; poverty mentality is something else altogether. Poverty mentality is debilitating: it says that no matter how much I have I don't have anything. It says that I have no worth because I'm not wealthy. It eats away at our self-esteem and paralyzes us with fear.
This is not to say that people should live beyond their means despite their income, but I am saying that by treating ourselves as worthy of something special (every now and then), we can increase our self-esteem, because "we're worth it".
My best decadence story was man, many years ago in Vancouver. It was January and it had snowed. I was staying at the Dufferin Hotel (which makes a one star hotel look like the Taj Mahal). I needed breakfast and decided I'd go to the Hotel Vancouver. The dining room was all dark wood and opulent and empty of most people. At a window seat I sat looking at the Courthouse lawn, all blanketed in white, and ordered strawberries and Devon cream for breakfast. Every bite was a little piece of the bourgeoisie.
It was heaven.
You don't have to go to those extremes to find a little self-indulgence. I know a woman who decided to buy herself a particular make-up she loved. I know people who go to music festivals. I know people who save up and go on trips to exotic places. Even the occasional going out for dinner, or buying a latte or chachki, which doesn't seem like much, can bring that decadence into our lives. It doesn't have to cost a lot of money and we can be treated to something special because we ARE special!
As for the "guilt" in guilty pleasures, I think we can shift our thinking and get out of the mindset that implies being generous with ourselves is somehow wrong and bad, and instead think that we can allow ourselves to be as special as the one percent, who don't think twice about spending massive amounts of money on things they don't need. We can be as rich as they are (at least in our minds) and not over-think our self-worth by consistently denying ourselves something wonderful because we carry with us the baggage of "not good enough".
We are all of us good enough, whether we live in a beautiful house, or on the street. To think otherwise is to deny our own beautiful value and our own contribution in the world.