Why do we want what we already have?
I was on the subway the other day and could not help but see the phone screen of the woman sitting next to me. She was in her sixties (I would guess) and was staring at her phone as if it held the secrets to the universe. I noticed she was scrolling through a website for a certain brand and style of shoe. That’s cute, I thought. And then, in the corner of my eye, noticed she was wearing the very shoe she was looking to buy.
We are trying so hard to be satisfied. We are trying to be involved with different social groups, do our work well, buy things, make things, do things. We place our hope in our possessions and our hobbies. We search for meaning around every corner, every thought, and every action.
Sometimes it feels like I am spinning plates. You know, like those carnival acts. I pride myself in how busy I am, bragging about my lack of time like it is a merit badge. I tell people about how much I am doing as often as I lament about it, as if my commitments are holding me against my will.
It is all in an effort to feel meaningful, to feel as though I am doing something worthwhile.
The problem is, it isn’t working. And so, like the lady on the train, I start to think what I need is just a little more. I need one more plate or an upgraded version of the poles or whatever it is. One more thing. Piles and piles of crap.
This lady, like me, had a perfectly fine pair of shoes on. They looked brand new to me. But she was already looking for new ones. A clean start, a fresh beginning, a minor upgrade. It’s as if we believe the deep satisfaction we are longing for will happen now that we don’t have to plug in our headphones.
The obsession with more is so prevalent we don’t even notice it. We have closets bursting and so much food on our plate we habitually throw some of it away, scraping it into the garbage as if it isn’t valuable. And then we go for dessert.
Breaking these patterns is no easy task. And honestly, who wants to. I don’t, and I probably won’t. I will most likely finish writing this blog and, within 24 hours, waste food for the sake of dessert and start online shopping for more books or tickets to a sporting event. I just want one more, after all. Just one more.