I've had a fascination with luxurious, nonalcoholic beverages for years. As beverages go, we only need water to live (outside of infancy, or other times where food is a bit of a challenge, like if your jaw is wired shut or something) and calories are much better to get from food, where nutrients can be balanced without excruciating efforts. But we choose to indulge, beyond our thirst, beyond intoxication. It's an area of life beyond purpose. It exists solely because we enjoy it the normal amount we ought to delight in things.
Of course, if you ask Warren Buffett, we've perfected the cola. Coke is great, but I'm partial to Moxie myself (although you could quite accurately claim that it's a root beer and not a cola). Plenty of people have distinct tastes - I've had a disgustingly sour drink from a European market, and East Asia has what I can only describe as barely palatable energy drinks.
As much as I appreciate the mission of Soylent, I like the variety of more pointless drinks. It shows how much depth we've yet to explore. Of course one size doesn't fit all, even if we've perfected the cola – we'll keep imagining other strange things to want.
I used to run a beverage review website, so I don't wish to repeat myself. But how we think about luxury is important. Getting our way isn't something we are entitled to, and to think of it that way destroys the experience. In fact, in an age of luxury, we ought to spend a bit of time, every once in a while, at least imagining what it is like to have nothing but what we need. Calories. Minimal shelter. No dignity, surely, that's the best luxury of all. Maybe that will help us appreciate this world more.
Devising new ways to appreciate the world should be rewarded as much as making the world so easy to appreciate. I suppose there's no direct reward, but in an age of loneliness and increasing anxiety and depression, perhaps it's rewarded more than anything else.
I hope we don't get complacent, forgetting how luxurious our lives can be. The responsibilities we have can crowd out some of it, but we can push or lives in a calmer, more appreciative direction. Maybe we ought to always have the basics in reach. A water with our soda. A tent in our backyard. Spend time with it, as a palette cleanser, the intense wasabi of deprivation to help us appreciate the nuance of mundane excess.
Or, of course, we could just live our lives, noticing only occasionally how nice things are. Perhaps that's more normal.