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The Key to a Happy Life

April 17, 2003

Ah, Spring, the time when the landscape appears as if it were painted by a great artist, when the birds make music of symphonic quality, and when the very air we breath feels air conditioned. That last point is particularly important, because it is only true so long as we are outside.

If we are inside, it is a different matter altogether.

Most of the year, indoor air is fabulously fresh, clean, and circulating at the right temperature, thanks to the greatest source for clean wonderful air: not the Clean Air Act but central air conditioning and heating. When people say, hey, turn on the air, it is literally true. We hardly open windows anymore, which (not being Mr. Outdoors) I think is fine in principle.

But in the Spring, the air goes off. It is no longer cold enough for heat but not yet warm enough for air conditioner. The thermostat tells the machine to stay put. You could turn on just the blower, but who thinks of doing that? So the air just sort of sits there, dormant and still. It is the right temperature, but it is not moving.

You might not notice this at first. But once you focus on it, you suddenly realize: I'm suffocating!

This is precisely the revelation that hit me two nights ago. For two weeks, nights had been oddly miserable. I wasn't too hot or too cold, just oddly and unidentifiably uncomfortable. I would wake somehow unrested. Am I sick? Am I getting old? Finally it hit me. The only circulation in this room comes from human breath!

Then it hit me: this room needs a fan running! On it came, and with it, life itself. The night was suddenly glorious, clean, and happy. All dreams were dreamy. I awoke and there was once again music in the air, the feel of flowers, the sound of birds (metaphorically of course). The fan had brought the Spring indoors.

Then I began to notice something. This problem isn't limited to the bedroom. It afflicts virtually all indoor space. In the Spring, with neither heater nor air conditioner, indoor air begins to sink into a stultifying blechiness. If you are sitting in the same spot, you are breathing the same air again and again.

My office needed a fan too! I turned it on to the same effect: the flowers appeared, the birds sang, the air moved! Suddenly my day has become as glorious as my night, filled with rapturous, Spring-like freshness. The fan! God bless it.

At this point in a superficially trivial essay such as this, one is supposed to plunge into history and reveal all the details that one knows about the history of the fan, so that the reader won't walk away thinking: I can't believe this guy thinks that his personal fan experience is worthy of an article on LRC!

Or I could plunge into the economics of the fan, how it is the system of free enterprise that gives us such choice: ceiling fans, stand-up fans, desk fans, clip-on fans, hand-held fans, and more. Hence the system of delivery must be guarded against all encroachment by the state.

But thanks to the fan running in my office, I feel no burdens to defer to any model of writing that is so tediously conventional. In any case, the economic point is obvious enough in that fans are available everywhere. As for the history, it turns out that this isn't necessary. The history of the fan is already well documented at the website of the Fan Museum in London.

Of course this history on this site, a bit pompous, deals with the inferior and primitive hand-held fan. For the serious stuff that we use in real life, you have to go to the site of the Fan Collectors Association in Andover, Kansas, which is appropriately hip to the magnificence of the electric fan. This site has an amazing array of pictures of its fans. You can also participate in the Fan Forum. You can attend an event, which, the site says, is "a great way to meet new friends, share fan stories, and buy, sell and trade fans."

Maybe so. What I do know is that a fan is the key to a happy sleep. It is the key to a happy, productive day. And because nights and days make up the whole of life, the fan is the key to a happy life. For a mere $9–20, you can bring the spring indoors without the bugs, or pollen, or other natural menaces. Buy a fan and live a full life!

Note: The views expressed on Mises.org are not necessarily those of the Mises Institute.

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