Several years ago, while browsing local tchotchke shops, I came across a gorgeous safari-themed chess set. It was hand-painted antique gold and black and featured engagingly stylized African animals – elephants, giraffes, tigers, etc.. To me, it was stunning. I wanted it. 

I tried to talk myself out of buying it because it was priced higher than I usually like to spend, mostly because I’m financially practical. Some would say, cheap.

Besides, I don’t play chess. I don’t even like chess.

I bought it anyway. See, maybe I don’t like chess, but I like chess sets when they reach the level of an art form. Plus, there are other members of my family that play. I have never regretted buying it. In fact, every time I look at it, it puts a smile on my face.

Did I need that artistic chess set?


And yes.

Technically, all we truly need is food, water, shelter and air. Certainly there are real people in the world who are grateful just to meet those parameters, let alone anything extra, like a hand-painted chess set.

So, no I didn’t “need” the chess set. I wanted it; I had the means to get it (it was a chess set, not a Fabergé egg); and I gave myself permission to go for it.

Giving ourselves permission to acquire things that exist simply to give us joy is not wrong. It’s necessary. We can live, we can exist, with just the basics. But we also need emotional fulfillment over and above our physical needs. Often, aesthetic pleasures serve that purpose.

Thankfully, many beautiful things that fulfill us are free: sunrises, fresh snow on a mountain top, our children sleeping peacefully. People who are absurdly practical, like me, can get by for quite a while with the kind of fulfillment that’s easy on the wallet. Nothing wrong with that.

Other times, it’s material things – artistic things – that make us feel good. Textures, colors, patterns, melodies and stories are meaningful elements that artisans blend in magical ways to create something truly special, something that stirs us. Those things are great, too.

But creative people made those things, and they deserve to be rewarded for their efforts. So, they’re going to cost us. And that’s very OK. If their creations move you and they aren’t beyond your means, why not go for it?

Life can be a battle sometimes. We need outlets to help us cope with circumstances we can’t control. Enhancing our environment with well-chosen, beautiful things that make us happy – fine art or music or films or chess sets – helps us get the better of the battles.

It’s embedded in our very natures to enjoy and appreciate beautiful things, whether hand crafted, hand painted or created by the hand of God. That last one is a given, so take the time to enjoy His creation! But on occasion, give yourself permission to indulge in beautiful things that mere mortals create.

You might not need them to eat, drink, dwell, or breathe, but happiness for happiness’s sake has a lot going for it, too.

Let's Muse Together

Yo! Grab a cuppa something foamy and a low-cal pastry and let's chat about creating havens in our lives - with art, with things we love and with people we love.


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