Dreamers of the Day

"All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that all was vanity; but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes, and make it possible." -T.E. Lawrence, "The Seven Pillars of Wisdom"

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Wanting

“Want to buy happiness? Spend less.”-The Dallas Morning News billboard

Driving south on 75, this billboard caught my eye. This is a profound statement, but to the marketing person or the salesperson in a modern culture, this doesn’t make sense. Why would any salesperson want anyone to sell less? Their job is to sell things. More is better and bigger is best. In my limited knowledge of economics, buying more seems to be the drive behind a free market system. Those in a free market system are free to fulfill their wants and their desires.

Wanting…

Many times I associate this word with material things. For instance, I wanted to listen to some different music this week, so I purchased more CDs. I go out and get what I want because I am capable of doing such things. However, when pondering my wants and listening to other people and their wants, interesting things surface. “I want a meaningful relationship.” “I want a nice car.” “I want to be rich.” Many times, the persons saying such statements are already in a meaningful relationship, have a nice car, or are well off. Their wants are not satisfied even-though they already have them.

The same can be said of the immaterial. I find that I constantly struggle with wanting more attention, more love, more praise from other people. These things are not tangible, but intangible. So, in a completely human, American way, when I am lacking of attention, love or praise, I set out to gain it. I know what to do to get it. I can talk more, joke more, wear things that I know people will complement me on or make people look at me, or create a new image solely based on my strengths and exalt these strengths.

But I still want…

This is where the subject of “needs” come in. What is the difference of a “want” and a “need?” I think to understand each, one must understand the origin of each. My wants are determined by me. My needs are determined by Something greater. For instance, I have a need to eat, to be loved and to sweat when I am hot. Each of these I did not choose to possess, but it is part of being a human. My “wants” can stem from these “needs.” I want to eat a certain type of food, to be loved by a certain thing or person or to cool myself off are ways we combat theses needs. I simply satisfy my wants without ever thinking of their origins.

“I am in need.” These are some of the hardest words for me to say. To recognize that I am depraved of something is humbling. It is funny how we humans will take the painful recognition of a depravity and glorify it. Food and sports are two great examples. We will pride ourselves while dining at the best restaurants, as we subtly say, “help me, I cannot live without food.” Sports are great and I love watching them, but they can be the exploitation of our inward desire to be a god. It is painful to be still, to stop and to accept our needs. It is painful for me to accept that I am in need.

Yet, when I choose to accept this, when I chose to accept that I am indeed a person who is depraved, my wants do not deceive me. I can enjoy a wonderful meal at a nice restaurant, a great basketball game or a nice car without it becoming an addiction. I can be praised or be loved by many people, but that will not change my identity. I can live life to its fullest potential, have a great time at parties and events, but the things I do, do not own me or determine who I am.

Where are you in this matter? Do you consume your life with the satisfaction of your wants, never leaving any time to ponder why you are doing it in the first place? Stop. Ponder your wants and needs. This Something who has created us can satisfy you. You must simply acknowledge you are in need in the first place.

8 Comments:

At 1:58 PM, Blogger christian said...

Fan-freaking-tastic, Jason! My wants certainly do not always match what my needs dictate, but it's a constant struggle I face. And, as you've said before, the fact that I actually do struggle with it is evidence that there is something going on there, even if it's not always 100% apparent to me. You push my a lot, brother. Thanks for your words.

 
At 7:00 AM, Blogger Jen said...

Jason-great thoughts! This is something the Lord has been teaching me this last year...needs vs. wants and it is a daily struggle.

 
At 7:43 AM, Blogger Creth said...

a post!

 
At 8:35 AM, Blogger Creth said...

Now I'm taking a quote from Lewis and inserting a few changes of my own, you will recognize my work by the parenthesis: "One of the great dangers of having a lot of (anything, fill in the blank) is that you may be quite satisfied with the kinds of happiness (anything) can give and so fail to realize your need for God. If everything seems to come simply by (just anything), you may forget that you are at every moment totally dependent on God." -C.S. Lewis

 
At 4:44 AM, Blogger Emily said...

My computer is whack, 'cause I've checked your blog since Saturday, and this new post is just now being revealed to me.

I'm glad my computer finally got with the program, because I love reading your posts. You, Mayes, are a very talented writer.

I know about wants. My father often says that I confuse the definitions of 'want' and 'need'.

Anyway, good post today-- it has given me something to 'chew on'.

 
At 7:44 AM, Blogger Trey said...

That's a great post, Jason. And, by the way, I'm so glad that I finally get to respond to the famous Jason Mayes question: "Where are you in this matter?" :)

I definitely find myself in the gutter on this one. More often than not, I take the approach of a negotiator, trying to marry the wants and the needs into a hybrid desire. And, I'm not talking about trying to actually make my wants match my needs; I want both my compulsory needs and my selfish wants. I desire it all, and that totally speaks to the consumer-driven world that you eluded to. Recently, I've thought a lot about how the American way of life presents its unique challenge to the Christian; consumerism goes straight to the top of that list, as does productivity. Those two fuel the other one: we buy more so we can do more so we can buy more so we can do more. Unfortunately, most times, that's really how the American Dream plays itself out.

And, of course, I don't blame America for my struggles, but I think one has to recognize that in several key areas, the "American way" is certainly not the "Christian way." Too often, Americans put on a veil that our way is 100% the right way, and that's not the case.

Anyway, I'm very glad you posted, Jason. Remember, there are folks outside Dallas that want to know what you're thinking!

 
At 10:01 AM, Blogger Micah & Brad said...

Wow! I read your article a couple of days ago, then just happened to randomly end up at a blog entitled, "Never Enough". As if that wasn't enough, her subtitle was, "Never pleased could be the word. I don't know what I want, i just know I WANT IT NOW !"

It reminded me of your article, and I just had to share. The scary thing is, even though I would never be so bold as to say those words, I know that my actions speak them far too often, and that may be even worse!

Hope you're having a great day!!

 
At 7:33 AM, Blogger Creth said...

you LOVE transcendentalism

especially "dental"

 

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