Two colleagues had invited us to breakfast on the occasion of their birthdays: there were rolls, cheese, jam, meat, and other delicacies on the tables in the cafeteria. Unfortunately, I had forgotten about this (they had announced it yesterday) and had already had breakfast this morning, so I couldn't enjoy it as much as I would have liked.
Towards the end, some people were standing in the atrium outside the cafeteria and smoking. I was glad they had gone outside and closed the glass door behind them… that was better than "in the olden times", when they would simply stand in a corner of the cafeteria and smoke, letting all others partake of second-hand smoke.
This made me think of what a colleague had talked about recently, how his wife had unsuccessfully quite smoking and had determined that if she was starting again, she would smoke outside in order to cut down a little (on the theory that if she had to go to the inconvenience of leaving the house, she might not smoke so much).
This, in turn, made me think of what a discussion would be like between a non-smoker husband who likes to sit at the computer and a smoker wife.
I imagined the husband complaining, "I hate it when you smoke indoors. It's icky."
The wife responds, "Well, I hate it when you always sit at the computer. We both have to be tolerant and respect each other's preferences."
"Well, maybe—but I don't think you can compare them. After all, my sitting at the computer doesn't cause our curtains to go yellow and our clothes to stink."
"That may be. But curtains and clothes can be washed or new ones bought—but if you keep sitting there rather than spend time with the family, that's something that can't be bought for money or cleaned up so easily."
And that's what made me think. I had no good answer for that. At the beginning of the train of thought, I was on the side of the non-smoker. But if you look at the "grand scheme of things", I think the smoker has a point. Some annoying things are temporal and temporary; some are spiritual and eternal. Which is worse?
Or, to put it bluntly: given that you believe that families can be eternal, is it worse to do something that will cause damage to material objects, or something that will damage the family and marital relationships?
I'll have to think about this and its consequences a bit more.
(I'm still glad Stella doesn't smoke, though.)