We may not believe we dislike inexpensive items, but we often act as if we do.
Columbus was the first European to marvel at the pineapple’s physical grandeur and bright sweetness, which is native to South America but had reached the Caribbean by the time he arrived.
The history of the pineapple indicates a peculiar overlap between love and economics: when we must pay a high price for something extraordinary, we enjoy it to the fullest. To boil the water and fill the tub, protect against draughts, hold the towels, and deliver the soap, many attendants were preferably necessary.
The trend is the same: a decrease in the value we place on an experience follows a reduction in the cost to attain it. Throughout much of human history, a valid link existed between price and quality: the greater the price, the better the item, since it was impossible for costs to be cheap and high.
Obviously, we do not refuse to purchase inexpensive or affordable items. It’s simply that being thrilled about cheap things has become quite peculiar. One is permitted to feel really excited over sturgeon eggs (£100 for a small pot) but must restrain one’s excitement for chicken eggs (£12 for two pounds). A frightening hierarchy operates in the background, determining what we are thankful for, what we believe we lack, and what we must have.
The tragedy of our connection with money is that the hierarchy favors expensive goods, leading us to believe that we cannot afford nice things and that, as a result, our lives are miserable and destined to be unfinished.
The money hierarchy continuously makes us feel destitute, although the underlying reality is that we have access to more nice things than we realize (and tend to notice only when we are dying or recovering from a bad illness). We are wealthy enough to buy a chicken’s egg, but we cannot afford the egg of the almost infertile and elusive Iranian sturgeon, which is much more costly but not significantly more delicious. How can we turn this around? The solution resides in a rather unexpected location: a four-year mind.
It began to rain an hour ago, the street is now covered in puddles, and nothing could be better; the riches of the Indies would pale in comparison to the pleasures of being able to see the ripples in the water created by a jump in one’s Wellingtons, the eddies and whirlpools, the minute waves, and the oceans beneath one’s feet.
They would choose the hardware store’s nail and screw area over the fanciest toy aisle. The apple is one instance of a continent we have forgotten to wonder about. In the case of low-priced things, however, we have not yet discovered a means to pay the vast amounts necessary to glamorize objects via advertising.