Marolt: Living the life of luxury with few of life’s luxuries |

Marolt: Living the life of luxury with few of life’s luxuries

Roger Marolt

I don’t think there are many people who will picture a tiny log cabin out in the woods up in the mountains when you ask them to describe “luxury.” I am one of them. But if you add hot and cold running water, you begin to make me a believer.

Everything is called “luxurious” these days. From our five-star hotels and restaurants to the soft pile of our Patagonia fleece jackets, you can hardly avoid living the life of luxury, at least if you pay attention to ads in magazines where actual articles and stories are few and far between or read product reviews on product tags. Luxury isn’t for the haves and have-nots. We all get it in increments, even if some increments are larger than others.

I’m not implying here that the wealthy have more luxury than the rest. It only seems that way. We judge them to have luxurious lives by what we would consider luxurious. But how could being served a perfectly cooked filet mignon immediately to your dinner table with the ring of a bell be considered luxurious if it happens every evening?

This also is not to imply that the wealthy have any less luxury than the rest of us who risk burning our own steaks at the grill every Friday evening when our attention spans, shortened from a week of work, are further shortened by cheap but cold beer. I don’t give a dang what Webster says — I think luxury is experiencing something really special in living our lives, that we can’t possibly expect to occur except in very short stretches that are few and far between. It happens to everybody.

I think luxury is experiencing something really special in living our lives, that we can’t possibly expect to occur except in very short stretches that are few and far between.

This brings me back to the cabin in the woods with running water. It has plumbing in the old-fashioned sense. You want a drink or a hot shower? No problem. If you want to flush the toilet, you’re out of luck because there isn’t one. Use the outhouse.

It also doesn’t have electricity, Wi-Fi or cellphone service. I know that sounds like hell for someone who doesn’t want to ever be out of touch. It turns out to be heaven for me, who doesn’t want to be out of touch but, once there, realizes it is where I prefer to be and is doubly indulged because I don’t have to think about returning calls or texts or waste time making up excuses why not.

Living in a rustic cabin for a couple of days isn’t work. Yes, if you want to stay warm, you have to build a fire. There’s a lost art in that, and most enjoy the practice. If you want to eat, you have to cook. Without other distractions, it turns into a group project where there is never enough for everyone to do, so you act busy and talk and sip wine. Cleaning up afterwards is more of the same honest-to-goodness, face-to-face communication. Talking about your big projects at work will get your dishrag taken away, and you’ll have nothing to do but sit in the rocking chair next to the fire alone, reflecting, until you come to your senses. It’s a place too cozy to have to-do lists.

Another luxury in the cabin is seven kids, ages 14 to 20, all sleeping together in the loft, completely unplugged for the first time since maybe ever, talking about whether to play Scrabble or Charades first, because they are all in it together and there’s strength in numbers and they realize it’s good to be a kid. They hang out on the deck because sunshine feels so good.

But kids like to get out and discover things more than anything else, and adults can’t live on hot coffee and stories around the warm stove alone. The antidote is the luxury of hiking to spectacular mountain lakes on vague trails while keeping blurry agendas and timetables. Salami and cheese on crackers and Pepperidge Farm cookies for lunch? You can have that anytime, anywhere, but you never do.

Maybe the greatest luxury of all, though, is all the time in the day to catch up on everything except what you have to — friends’ lives, what your kids are thinking about, reading or sitting on a log around a campfire and trying to roast the perfect s’more as if it is the most important task in the world for a couple of minutes, because you finally remember that it is the minutes that count — every last one of them — and by the grace of God, I hope we get to do this again.

Roger Marolt knows a cellphone is a luxury, but mostly for those who want to take some of your time when it is particularly inconvenient. Contact him at


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