Tuesday, October 7, 2008

A Fine-Something-That-All-People-Need

"A Thneed's a Fine-Something-That-All-People-Need!
It's a shirt. It's a sock. It's a glove. It's a hat.
But it has OTHER uses. Yes, far beyond that.
You can use it for carpets. For pillows! For sheets!
Or curtains! Or covers for bicycle seats!"
--From The Lorax by Dr. Seuss

I want that.

Not a day goes by without the thought of something I want (read NEED) flashing through my mind. It's funny that I somehow thought that once I decided to swear off shopping, the desire for stuff would go away. But it never really does. I'm hardwired to want more and better and bigger and nicer and more comfortable stuff. There is always something that pops into my mind unexpectedly and I think, "I really, really want that." In fact if I think long enough about that thing, it gets to the point that I'm fully convinced that I NEED it. I need it. I need it. I need it.

But I don't.

I don't need it. I just want it really bad and I'm used to getting nearly everything I want. So, it's a mental fight to calm that need down.

I'll use this morning as the example. I got up and it was still dark and surprisingly chilly. Dark and chilly...dark and chilly...what would make that better? Of course! One of those cute little flickering fireplaces that you plug in and it casts a nice (albeit fake) fiery glow around the room. Yeah! I need one of those. Then I could turn it on before I get out of bed and it would warm my bedroom up and then I would actually feel like getting up. Yep! I really need that thing because it is going to turn me into a morning person and I will jump right up into my cosy, glowing bedroom and I will get ready faster and get to work earlier and my boss will notice and give me a raise and then I can get two little fireplaces and the whole cycle will repeat itself only now I will be so cosy that I will feel like getting up and working out and I'll get in fantastic shape and feel like a new person and my life will be perfect. Perfect I tell you! I have to have one.

But then I remember the Need Less challenge. Damn. So I start talking myself down off the need cliff. Come on now. It's not like I live in an igloo. And really, wouldn't making my room that cozy just make me want to stay in bed longer enjoying the cozy goodness of it? And come on. It's absurd to think that one little fireplace is going to turn me into some kind of bounce-out-of-bed-morning-exerciser.

And so the need dissolves a little and my rational mind starts to kick back in and I push it down to the want category where it belongs. And then I resignedly remind myself that I want to consume more responsibly and use less stuff in this big, overpacked world of ours. In fact. That want is bigger than my desire for a little fireplace and my NEED is tamped down.

But, it turns out, it's only tamped down. It's not out. That hot flame of NEED will crop up again and again and again in many insidious ways. I just have to tell myself it's sort of like going to bed a little hungry. It feels like that cookie will be the answer when you are contemplating that long night of craving, but then you wake up in the morning and realize that you got through it, you really didn't need it, and you really don't crave that thing any more.

That is until the next NEED flares up.


KL said...

Maybe if you had a sneed, it would be everything you need?!

I'll watch out for some truffala trees here in the bad lands.

So, I'm waiting for you to sell your house and live in a little tiny house as part of the "don't need big things" challenge. Ha!!!

If you give enough stuff away, you could probably move into one. =)

Bonnie said...

OK--I think it's really funny that you quoted that exact thing today. I just read that story to Zack! And BTW, I think I might NEED one of those fireplaces, too. Wouldn't that be a great place to sit and read Dr. Seuss???

TravelByTurtle said...

My version of the getting by for less involves food, and I see myself going through the same decisions you do, just with different objects.
I DO need a little fat in my diet don't I? (read 'butter')
Since I went to the gym, dessert is OK, if not deserved!
It's good healthy food, so I can eat more of it. (correlary(sp), if it's 'bad' food, I have to eat less than I'd like)
It looks like I can convince myself of anything when I want to, and that I'd trade a food limitation for a shopping limitation. (salad is greener on the other side!!!)