Lake Worth speech pathologist Ken Mylott first encountered Epicureanism at Florida State University, where he graduated with a speech degree but concentrated in philosophy. Being a nonjudgmental type of guy, he took immediately to the precepts of simplicity and living in the "now" set forth some 300 years before Christ by Epicurus, a Greek philosopher.
Epicurus cooked up his philosophy. He wrote it down. His writings attracted followers. For the past 2300 years, Epicureans have wanted to popularize his ideas. "Epicureans are not hung up about gender preference or race or money," asserts Mylott, age 44, who has advertised his intention to start an Epicurean fellowship in south Palm Beach County.
Epicureanism is not to be confused with hedonism, in which pleasure is seen as an end unto itself, or with the use of the term epicurean by both food writers and gift shop owners to denote refined taste. Epicurus wasn't down with living large, instead believing that the wisest men do not need Mercedes-Benzes or 90-inch TVs or cellular phones to make them happy. He preferred the simple bed to the golden couch, the soup and salad to dinner at the Four Seasons, and moderation to excess.
Mylott, who is "waiting for a full-time position" in speech pathology to open up, also favors the modest life. "I'm a very simple person," he declares, more than pleased to list examples. "I live in the poorest section of Lake Worth. I frequent thrift stores. I use a bike instead of [going to] a gym. I have a CD player, but get my CDs from thrift stores. I even have a wind-up radio."
Still struggling to be born, Mylott's dream fellowship would follow the model of groups in Germany, Italy, and San Francisco, where, he says, "they've got 40 to 70 people in their group, all getting together for things like Frisbee festivals." There's even an Epicurean Website (atomic-swerve.net/tpg/) and Epicurean magazines, such as Simple Living.
But Epicureanism isn't a religion, Mylott hastens to say, noting that Epicurus rejected the idea of an afterlife and the influence of gods in human affairs. "No one's trying to convert anyone to anything -- except friendship and fellowship."
Mylott readily admits that it won't be easy starting a fellowship based on simplicity and moderation anywhere near tony Boca Raton. "And," he adds, "maybe people in my generation aren't ready for it. Maybe the next generation is better prepared to accept it."
But Mylott is going ahead anyway. You might even have seen printed announcements about his proposed group in local newspapers or in stores. "I think it would be wonderful just to get together as a group of friends, discuss ideas, enjoy each other's company," he says. "Finding friends with common goals is the point.
"Epicureanism is a tranquilizing philosophy," he continues. "Anyone who wants peace of mind should look into it."