Be Careful What You Wish For

Be Careful What You Wish For

When snow closes a road, one’s mind might open up for new possibilities.

About two weeks ago I overheard a conversation in a small local grocery store. A man asked the saleswoman: “Do you keep the large packages of hand dishwashing detergent?”

The saleswoman replied: “No, we only have the small ones.”

The man took his time to think and then said: “Well, I will take two small packages then.”

The saleswoman diligently brought two packages to the counter without saying anything, but the man felt he should explain his ‘odd’ wish: “It is going to snow, you know. I live up in the hills on a solitary farm. Once the snow covers the steep road, I am cut away from all stores … maybe for months. I need back-up supplies.”

He was not shopping in a shopping center nearby, piling DVDs for his lonely evenings. He was not buying any junk food, for he can probably prepare healthy meals from vegetables, cereals, fruits and meat produced on his farm. He did not need any New Year’s Eve clothes, for his modest clothing will suffice even on that night. He will probably have little company or none, so why bother dressing up? Can you imagine yourself buying 3-month-supplies in a small grocery store? I know I cannot imagine myself doing that.

In this last historical period, known for material abundance, we have developed new needs. But the real needs are probably: healthy basic food, some exercise, modest clothing, a modest heated place to stay (owned or rented), a vehicle in places with little or no public transport, somebody to love and be loved back. If there is an illness, naturally there are also additional needs like medication etc. Of course next to our needs there are responsibilities towards the needs of other people: taking care of your child or an elderly parent, respecting the needs of your partner and always trying to come up with a good compromise, fulfilling your tasks at work. However, all the rest we strive for in my opinion are our wishes. Have you ever tried to make a list of your wishes? Think how your wishes control you, how much pressure they put on you. Abandoning a wish might reduce some stress in your life. Let me give you an example.

I used to have a wish to be able to dress elegantly. But the more I calculated, the more deeply convinced I was that it did not make any sense. Firstly, elegant clothing is more expensive than the casual one. Secondly, if you dress elegantly, you also need elegant shoes with high heels. You also cannot wear a sport knit hat. If you have high heels and no woolen hat to cover your ears in cold winter, you cannot walk a few miles to run your errands like I do. You need a car, which means even more expenses. So eventually I gave up the wish to finally ‘grow up’ and be a lady. Instead I look like a modest student. That way I could afford to give notice and start working on what I really like to do. My book publishing business has no income yet, but my husband can support my modest needs and wishes in the meantime.

To be continued.

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