What is it about good things that makes us want to possess them in some way? I remember when I was little, every time I smelled something really good, I would keep sniffing and sniffing, and wishing I could taste whatever that smell was, as if tasting it would keep it there. (No, it wasn’t always food.) As an adult, I see something beautiful, like a white bird silvered against dark trees or blue water, and I want to draw it, stitch it, quilt it, have some form of it so I can see it always. I want to hold my loved ones close and never let go. I want beautiful music or great conversations with friends to stay in my ears. Any time I experience something wonderful, I want to somehow bring it under my control, so I can experience it again whenever I want. I don’t think I’m alone in this.
Why else would we have favorite recipes, music on our iPods, popular destinations, and art collectors? People used to pay artists, chefs, and musicians to live in their houses and create masterpieces at their whims. We have a bit of that now, with our plethora of music options, restaurants, and the Internet, where everything is almost immediately at our fingertips. We surfeit ourselves constantly with a barrage of all our favorite pleasures, so that if we are momentarily bereft of one, we count ourselves put upon and abused, and think ourselves justified in complaining and heaping censure on those who are perceived of depriving us of our desire.
So what’s the point? More of an observation than anything, actually. I like good food, great music, and beautiful things as well as the next person. Sometimes more — I can be a bit of a snob. 🙂
I guess I’m just thinking, in the light of the recent events in Haiti (and before that it was somewhere else, and somewhere else again) — I wonder how much we could really do without if the need arose? I think quite a lot, actually. People manage to survive on miniscule amounts of food, water, sleep, and protection, and are often actually still happy. I think my household is perenially short of money, yet we have a warm house, two cars that work well, good food (if the cook may say so herself), and a little extra for tea and hobbies.
It makes me wonder, if I did without trying that new recipe or getting a new pair of socks, could I send some more money to people who feel lucky to have a piece of scrap metal shielding them from the elements? Or even less? I’m reminded again of how far a bit of money can go in some parts of the world; how what we consider a pittance, pocket change, could make the difference between someone eating three meals a day or nothing. Construction workers in Thailand make about $1.30 a day. That’s a candy bar’s worth of rent, food, and clothing for their families. What could I budget? How can I make a difference?
If you think you have anything at all to give up (and trust me, we all do, especially if you have enough money to be reading this blog on your own computer), click on one of the links below and send some money to a place where it will buy someone the best-tasting food they’ve ever had (because without it they’d starve), play the sweetest music (of children’s voices, who would otherwise be crying), and paint the most beautiful picture — hope of continuing life.
Give up a little of your best to capture life for someone else.