It is funny, because my response to her post probably isn’t exactly what she expected from readers, but what can I say? So here it is…
I think that there are some words that we use a bit loosely. Love and hate are two examples. We often don’t think twice and say we love something or someone when we really just like them a lot, or that we hate this or that, when we just don’t appreciate them.
The same goes with need. It seems to me that the more comfortable a person’s life becomes, the more they forget the true meaning of “needing”. Try to pay attention, just for a day, to see how many times you’ll hear people (and yourself) mention how they need that new laptop computer… How they need to change cars, or how they need to travel to Italy.
What we really mean is that we want these things. Sometimes really bad, but still, no one will die because they don’t have a computer, a car, or can’t travel. They might be less happy, their life more complicated, but still…
And I was thinking about that just a couple of days ago. I was sitting on my bed, looking at some of my stuff, and thinking, if I had to get rid of most of my things for some reason, and just save what I really really need, what would I let go? And truth is, a lot of it. Many of my clothes, and other stuff could be taken away without any problem. I would probably feel bad for getting rid of some things like gifts, that have something emotional about them… But I bet I’d soon be fine too. And all that was left in the end was enough furniture to be comfortable in my apartment, enough clothes for all four seasons, and maybe the occasional special event. Food in the fridge and cabinet, and all my real important memories; Pictures, letters…
I noticed that I had already worked on the need vs want dilemma, while traveling abroad. Since my first trip to Denmark, three years ago, I decided that I would no longer travel with a suitcase, to save some money. I only take a backpack with me in the plane, and it can’t weigh more than twenty five pounds. For my first trip, I packed my bag with everything that would fit in, and I was just under the twenty five pound limit. But I found out that many of the things I had brought, I had not even used during my trip. On my second trip, I had cut on space and weight, and it was during winter (meaning warmer clothes) so I knew I had done a much better job choosing needed items. The same happened on my third trip to Vikingland, and when I went to Paris last fall.
I am getting better at knowing what I need to have with me, and what I want to bring.
I kept thinking, and I thought that maybe I was playing with words a bit. Or maybe this is very clear to me because of my years in Africa, when I was deprived of most of my North American luxuries. During these five years, I learnt that as long as I had food, water, somewhere I felt safe and clothes fitting the climate where I lived, life was good.
Maybe there is a graduation of what human beings want in their life. Going from primary needs (food, water, shelter…) to unimportant things (switching from a working white fridge, to a stainless fridge, because it looks better). And, let’s say we scale it from one to ten, with “one” being absolute need, and “ten” merely whims. And we all have our personal view of where “needs” switch to “wants”.
If I am right about that, it just seems logical that the closer that point is to level one on the scale, the simpler life is. Having less and less needs makes it easier to fill all your actual needs. And it is a lot less irritating not to have what we just want, because we know they are luxuries….
And just like my backpack example… It is a lot easier to travel light.
Well this is a lot of blabbering… I wonder if it only makes sense? If not, file your complaints to Amanda, it is her fault I jumped on the keyboard tonight… Mouahahahaha! But if you do get what I mean, please leave me your own thoughts about it. Who knows, an interesting conversation might come out of it!!