Daily Archives: May 7, 2020

Distinguishing between want and need…

…wherever I am, let me never forget to distinguish want from need.

Barbara Kingsolver, High Tide in Tucson

The last 6 weeks (or so) have reminded me of the Barbara Kingsolver quote. As I look in my closet, I see a lot of things that I thought were needs but were really only wants.

I spend almost all of my time at home following shelter in place and social distancing rules. When I go out, the trips a quick and I wear old clothes that go into the washer when I get home.

I spend a lot of time in Zoom meetings, but I only have to look good from the waist up. Shoes and jewelry are superfluous. (I’m starting to teach tai chi and yoga again online, but those don’t require an extensive wardrobe.)

My current credit card bills show me how much — or how little — I really need.

But those things that I thought I needed have needs of their own — to be managed, and cleaned, and cared for. They require resources, space, and energy.

…increase of worldly things make men poor not rich, because every worldly thing hath a need annexed to it.

Bishop Stephen Gardiner (1483–1555)

When the current restrictions end — and we find our new normal (the old normal is gone) — I hope I remember to distinguish between the two.

And I’ll end with another quote from Barbara Kingsolver…

…Want is a thing that unfurls unbidden like fungus, opening large upon itself, stopless, filling the sky. But needs, from one day to the next, are few enough to fit in a bucket, with room enough left to rattle like brittle brush in a dry wind.

Barbara Kingsolver, High Tide in Tucson