When I was a child my mother sat me down and told me this story. “Once there was a woman who loved all things, she collected every object of interest to her. Her house was filled to overflowing with so much stuff that she could barely open the door. One day a man came to her and asked if she had a pair of shoes she could give him. Her answer was no that she needed every single pair, every single object for herself. The man who had no shoes went away in sadness. The next day a child came to the door and asked if she had any dolls she might give her. Her answer was no that she needed every single doll, every single object for herself. The child went away in sadness because she had no dolls.
One day an old woman came to the door and asked her if she wanted the old socks she had. The woman said why would I want your old stinky socks? The old woman said, well I heard that you need every single object for yourself and I thought I would share with you. I have two pair, I can only wear one pair, so I don’t need the second one I only need one pair.
You do understand the difference between want and need don’t you, said the old woman. Needs are the things we require for survival, wants are objects that are not always necessary for life. They may bring us joy, they may even bring delight, but they are not needed. If such objects prevent us from see each other as people, fellow humans, and creatures of earth, they are objects we do not need.”
I have remembered this story all my life. When I go into a store and find something that delights me, I ask do I “need” this or do I just “want” it?
Ruth Jewell, ©December 7, 2020