Sunday, February 24, 2008

The End of Wanting Things


I think it started with the cell phone. Maybe not the practice of not wanting things, but the realization that it as time to stop wanting. My cell phone broke and Waterbunny brought me a new one. My old one was a black, stubby Nokia phone that flipped open. It was a sturdy, useful phone- mostly because I learned how to make it useful.

The new phone was a sleek Samsumg red phone with lots of bells and whistles. But the buttons worked different and I had little patience for learning a new phone. An added irritation was a volume button on the side that I was constantly bumping during phone calls. The phone wasn't working for me.

Then I remembered that Sweetie Angel had a Nokia just like mine. I proposed a simm card switch and she ended up with the Samsung and I ended up with the same old Nokia phone. I am still using it today. The realization had hit. I didn't want more bells or whistles or cell phone internet or blackberries or tunes or television or movies. I just wanted a telephone that worked.

It spread to other things. A wall-mounted wide screen TV would be nice, But I can see the picture just fine on the 27 inch television I bought a few years ago. I know I needed a new truck that could do everything my work required. If that wasn't the case, I would buy an old, cheap truck and drive it into the ground. Again and again I would do this. I don't need things anymore.

I love to play guitar. I met a musician awhile back who was a guitar collector of sorts. He knew every guitar ever made and each guitar's worth. His collection of guitars was impressive and worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. He would play at the bar with a Taylor guitar or a Martin D-38, and we would all salivate. He was an OK guitarist too, but nothing special.

Meanwhile, a good friend, recognized as one of the best progressive metal guitarists in the industry, sits in his recording studio, cradling a mid-priced guitar and making musical journeys that most only dream about. He doesn't need things, he needs music.

Even the computer I own is getting old and stubborn and could use replacement. I downloaded some virtual reality program earlier this week and was eager to play the game. When I tried to load it, an error screen popped up- insufficient video driver for the program. Ten years ago, I would have ran to the nearest computer store, pulled out a charge card, and upgraded my machine to match the game. This time I just smiled and closed the program. I don't need new things.

It all sounds so foolish on so many levels. We have been conditioned, through the pervasive and persuasive presence of television to want things. Just prior to the Academy Award show this year, there was a BMW commercial. There are many, so many of us who have never been able to afford that luxury. BMW is a status symbol we think we need. But we don't need new things.

Is the American dream to one day become successful enough buy the luxury car, live in the luxury home, and live the luxury life? That dream is the wrong dream. There has to be an end to wanting things. There should be a different American dream to believe in.

To build a better world for our children, to promote peace and harmony between cultures, to be a living example to those around us- that is the American dream I want to believe in. To live our lives with grace, honor, and dignity and to share our vision of freedom with others- that is the American dream I want to believe in. The words aren't empty if you believe in their meaning. We must end our wanting of things and begin the wanting of something more from within ourselves.

Can we fulfill such a dream? Will it require the restructuring of our capitalistic society? How do we get to the end of wanting things and keep our democracy strong? I wish I knew. Let's just see where the dream takes us. I'm ready.
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