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Saturday, January 30, 2010

Absolutes and Relatives


Q: How much money does a man need to be happy?
A: Just a little more...
I’ve recently had the pleasure of purchasing a bicycle on ebay for a cycling buddy. He hasn’t got an ebay account and is not really the type for auctions. But he likes bicycles and his current ride is a wonderful custom Llewellyn (made by Darrell McCulloch in Brisbane, Australia). Great guy with good bicycle sense.
One day I find a custom Columbine on one of my many trawls through ebay. Nice bike at a decent starting price but it’s just a bit too big for me. I keep the link on my desktop for interest sake then casually mention it to my friend on one of our long, casual Sunday rides. He’s interested. We agree on a maximum bid amount and within 48hrs the bicycle is his. (for a great price I might add)
I already have a decent collection of obsolete steel bicycles yet I’m always just one bike away from my perception of bicycle bliss. Yes I am a little envious. Ok, I admit it, I’m really envious. I just wish I could be a little taller then the bike could have been mine. All mine... Yes, my precious...One bike to to rule them all...


the tyranny of size...


polished CK headset with stainless lugs

beautiful lugwork and finish

It’s all Absolutes and Relatives...
We live our lives within the bounds of certain absolutes and in the company of a lot of relatives. Social absolutes define the way we would like to live our lives. Such concepts include a belief in a personal God (that judges our actions) or, on a smaller scale, a principle that we should not eat meat (for various different reasons). Scientific absolutes define the world we live in (or rather, the world we experience). No particle (or wave) can travel faster than the speed of light, nothing is colder than absolute zero, the value of pi is a set number, nothing violates the laws of thermodynamics...
For many of us our daily lives are less affected by absolutes and more focussed on where we are relative to those around us. For instance, we often judge our material wealth and our social status relative to those around us. It is often hard to see a personal God, but it is easy to see that the neighbour drives a Bentley convertible. Or that the girl at work is prettier than the wife. It is hard to remain content if we see important aspects of our lives only in terms relative to others. Your wealth becomes my poverty. Your gain is my loss.
Focussing on our relationship to others is often unsatisfactory but in many ways it is what makes us human. Acceptance of constraints is the key to being content. Some constraints are blindingly obvious but only if we are open to it. A certain income can only support a certain lifestyle - “living within your means” is a truism that is often ignored. Other constraints have to be set. These may be certain dictums by which we live (thou should be faithful to thy wife...) or physical constraints enforced upon you by a sense of discipline (I will only own 3 bicycles...) or by others (if you buy another bike I will divorce you...).
Constraints are absolutes that define the limits of our relative positions. Contentment is an acceptance of these limits.
There. I feel better already. Now let’s have a quick check of what’s on ebay...

1 comment:

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