“You know what wine and liqueur tastes like. It makes no difference whether a hundred or a thousand bottles pass through your bladder — you are nothing more than a filter.”SENECA, MORAL LETTERS, 77.16
In today’s entry in The Daily Stoic, author Ryan Holiday points out that the quote above is technically about wine, but it could apply just as easily to fancy cars, the latest tech gadgets, gourmet food, collectibles — or any number of things which people cultivate a taste for.
Enjoying these things is not wrong. Devoting your energy and becoming an expert on them is okay — but that pursuit in and of itself does not add grand value to your life. Experiencing a bounty of the finer things in life doesn’t mean you’ve lived any more fully. It certainly doesn’t make you wiser, kinder, or a better person. It doesn’t improve you as a person at all, in fact!
Chasing the finer things in life doesn’t make you more interesting at parties — if anything, it probably makes you more pretentious. And when you’re on your deathbed someday, it won’t matter at all that you were a connoisseur at one point, because in death we are all the same. Sure, they might mention your good taste in your obituary, but who cares? They aren’t going to put “He liked a fine wine” on your gravestone, and it wouldn’t matter anyway.
As Holiday reminds us, “You are just a conduit, a vessel” for these finer things. You are just the experiencer, you are not the good taste itself, and you are nothing grand. Enjoy these finer things, but keep them in their place — and in perspective.