Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Beauty of Grey

Okay, I confess: I like the color grey. And yes, I prefer the old English spelling of it also. Actually, I came to the realization the other day that it is my favorite color of all. I guess I was in some kind of denial about it until I had to acknowledge that my car is grey, my scooter is grey, my computer is grey, my house I sold was grey, my wardrobe is very grey and what is left of my hair is becoming ever more grey.

While I consider myself a very black-and-white kind of person when it comes to principles, I cannot help liking the color grey and its many hues, from light grey, or heather, to dark grey, or charcoal, and all that is in between. I suppose I am particularly enamored with the sleek minimalism of grey and the understated elegance that it reflects. Besides that, I am not sure what it says about me other than that I simply treasure the beauty of grey.

So suffice it to say that I love living on the island of Nantucket, which is called “The Grey Lady” partially due to its fog-laden location and partly due to the abundance of grey-colored houses here. Whereas the fog is weather-related the architecture is man-made, largely the result of the island’s Quaker settlers who believed in an egalitarian unanimity. As a matter of fact, a running joke on Nantucket is “meet me by the grey house with the white shutters.”

Another appealing aspect of Nantucket’s grey-scale landscape is the total absence of billboards or even chain establishments on island. Other than a Ralph Lauren store that apparently got grandfathered under the guidelines, there are no national brands represented here and the result is a community vibe reminiscent of kinder, gentler times and places in America. Coming from the commercialism capital of Central Florida to the offshore oasis of Nantucket has been a welcome respite, grey days and all.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous

With this weekend marking the hundredth anniversary of the Titanic sinking it got me to thinking about the lifestyles of the rich and famous, as some of the biggest celebrities in the world were on board the “unsinkable” ship for its maiden voyage, including John Jacob Astor, who died in the wreckage as the wealthiest person aboard.

When it comes to wealth, I recall a mentor of mine suggesting that the word rich simply connotes “a full supply” and a famous actor saying that money grants options more than it guarantees happiness. While I may not be rich or famous by standard definitions I consider myself blessed with a full supply as well as options, not the least of which has included the opportunity to live in special locales over the years.

As a case in point, after selling our beloved cottage that we owned for better than a dozen years about this time last year, my wife and I have enjoyed living in a couple of the most desirable places anywhere. Celebration, Florida, is an award-winning planned community outside Orlando, and Nantucket, Massachusetts, is a renowned island getaway thirty miles off the coast of Cape Cod.

What makes our experience all the more remarkable is the fact that we wound up leasing properties in both places that were wonderfully situated yet well within budget. Indeed, we literally couldn’t have picked two more perfectly positioned homes than the ones located on Lake Evalyn in Celebration and on Main Street in Nantucket, named one of the ten best streets in all of America.

My point in sharing these details is simply to highlight how much it is possible “to live large on less.” While my wife and I have yet to earn six-figure incomes we have enjoyed a semblance of the good life without being either rich or famous by living simply within our means, paying off debt and giving to others. It may not be a recipe for celebrity but we wouldn’t trade our lifestyle with anyone.