Sep 052013
 

raiders4

“A thing there was that mattered; a thing, wreathed about with chatter, defaced, obscured in her own life, let drop every day in corruption, lies, chatter. This he had preserved. Death was defiance. Death was an attempt to communicate; people feeling the impossibility of reaching the centre which, mystically, evaded them; closeness drew apart; rapture faded, one was alone.”

—Virginia Woolf, from Mrs. Dalloway

Let’s say you have to give something up in order to get what you want. The wanting is proportional to the sacrifice. In other words, the more you want it, the more you have to give up. So first figure out what you want.

Like this: “I want a job that pays well, that makes me feel good about myself, and that allows me to be creative.”

Okay, that’s a pretty big want. Now, what kind of giving up are we looking at? Your leather Burberry pants? They were expensive, sure, but they don’t count as a sacrifice. Look at the size of your want.

Your car? Well, now we are in a catch-22 because you will need a car to get to your amazing new job. You can’t give that up.
So. Think about it. What will you give up?

English muffins.
Won’t work, the gods know that you hate English muffins.

Ice cream? You’ll stop eating ice cream?

Is that all you care about? Food?
To you, it seems like an impossible thing, giving up your favorite food. I understand.  But this is hardly the meaning of sacrifice.

What about giving up someone you love?
I know, don’t even think about it. Makes you sick.
This is why the ancient cultures slaughtered bulls and goats.
Took them to the altar and slit their throats.
We cannot talk about giving up people you love.
Whatever that means.
It doesn’t have to involve an altar, of course.

Let’s try a different want. Let’s shrink the size of the want.
“I will give up my afternoon coffee and cookie if the gods will bring me a friend who makes me laugh and truly wants what’s best for me.”

Coffee and a cookie?
You get nothing for that.
I keep telling you. Foods don’t count.

Would you throw away your cell phone?
Ha ha just kidding. That won’t get you jack. The gods hate cell phones.

A friend who is funny and really wants the best for you, all the time?
Wow. Another jumbo want. Better think smaller if all you can spare is your afternoon snack.

“I will give up my leather pants that fit me like a glove and that I have wanted my whole adult life if the gods will clean up my Facebook stream and remove all posts that make me feel excluded or inferior. As well as all posts that make me feel that life is so boring and phony, it’s not worth living.”

There’s a Facebook setting for that. You don’t need the gods. Besides, the gods say “Get off Facebook if it makes you so unhappy.”

“I will give up my entire iTunes library as well as the ability to ever purchase any more downloads if the gods will let me wake up every day with a blank mind.”

Wait a minute.
Wait wait wait!
A blank mind? What?
What the hell are you asking for anyway?

You’re not ready for this.
Game over.
Besides, you already have it. That thing that you want.

 

 

 

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Sean Dell says:

Brit philosophers, Keith Richards & Mick Jagger, figured this Wants/Needs equation some time ago:

You can’t always get what you want
But if you try sometime
You just might find
You get what you nee-eeed.

Oh yeah!