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Wants and Needs

“Your satisfaction is what you have, divided by what you want.”
― Arthur C. Brooks, From Strength to Strength

“Satisfaction comes not from chasing bigger and bigger things, but paying attention to smaller and smaller things.”
― Arthur C. Brooks, From Strength to Strength

“Don’t forget it: he has most who needs least. Don’t create needs for yourself.” — Josemaría Escrivá

This business of creating needs is familiar. Just now I’m distracted by the perceived need to buy a book I’ve heard about, knowing I have a stack of unread books on the shelf. We want what we want in this lifetime, and either push the thought away to focus on what we have or we let it gnaw at us like a teething puppy gnaws at furniture. Which reminds me, I wanted a puppy recently, and reconcile myself to the lifestyle changes she’s imposed upon me ever since (she filled a tangible void in an empty nest, but she also fills poop bags with surprising efficiency).

The thing is, to find peace in this marketing-induced manic world, we must find satisfaction in the little things in our lifetime. Life is more satisfying when you stop craving every shiny new thing that splashes across your preferred media feed. We can never keep up with the Joneses, and why would we want to anyway?

During the pandemic I began watching YouTube sailing videos, and soon began craving the lifestyle myself. Wouldn’t it be nice to own a boat and just slide into some beautiful cove for sunset before allowing the gentle rocking of the waves lull you to blissful sleep? Wouldn’t it be nice to pull up anchor and sail anywhere in the free world? It sure seems like a dream. But I soon realized that it’s not my dream, not at this point in my life. Put another way, a boat is a really nice place to visit but I wouldn’t want to live there. Give me a quiet garden and some body of water to plunge into now and then and I’m generally happy.

Yet the wanderlust remains. The call of places unseen stirs something deep inside. Is this want a need? The question we always must ask is, what will I say no to in order to say yes to this? Another question to ask is whether this is the time for this yes in my life or is it best deferred to another time bucket in this life? Combined these questions resolve a lot of impulsive decisions and bring peace to a restless soul.

That puppy who was gnawing on furniture not too long ago has become a sweet, energetic companion. My bride and I know the tradeoffs of having such responsibilities in our life once again, but we also know that it’s what we needed, not just what we wanted in some moment of impulsiveness. Let others chase those shiny new toys, those biggers and betters, we’re doing just fine with what we have.

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