All Or Nothing?
The question was posed: is it more dangerous to want everything or nothing?
I think desiring everything can be an indication of ambition, if what you want is intangible. Failure to narrow down these aspirations make one the proverbial “Jack of all Trades, and Master of None.” Those of us with this issue of course refer to ourselves as “Renaissance” persons. It sounds better.
I had no goals in high school. Except to survive.
Desire for things is a symptom of the commercialization fed to us every day; we are bombarded: ads on TV, ads online, the lure of a glistening store.
The sellers know, the more we are dissatisfied with ourselves, the more we are likely to buy a product. “If I just bought this wrinkle cream, I would look younger and more desirable.” “If I bought this treadmill, I would lose weight and be sexy.” It is human nature to desire to improve, fit in, and of course, find a “better” mate. And society has persuaded us, tragically, that this results from conspicuous consumption, not from internal change.
Desiring many things can also indicate greediness, addiction, hoarding issues, and narcissicism, where people may spend more than they can afford, landing themselves in debt and jeopardizing their family’s finances.
I confess, I do want everything. Things. In my case, I want to improve my looks, and to fit in with my peer groups, and I have definite packrat tendencies. I love to shop, and sometimes I engage in retail therapy. I shop when I feel bad, I shop when I feel good, I shop because I love to bring home piles of lovely things to add to my treasure troves of clothing, art and jewelry supplies, books, stationery, eclectic decorating items. My interests are wide. And since high school, I have harbored the conviction that the more “cool” things I have, the safer from criticism and ostracism I will be.
Wanting no material things; that’s good. We could use more asceticism in life. A simple life is examined and confident.
But wanting nothing; that can be scarier still. I realized one day, a few years back, that despite hoarding my precious supplies of material things, that I have no goals left.
I had a goal to go to college; I finished with a whopper GPA . Check. Next goal: have fun. Did that in spades. Overdid that. Next stop, medical school. Made straight A’s my first two years, and nearly that the second two. Check. Next stop, residency. Chose a specialty and spend a grueling 4 years training, being hazed, overworked and psychologically abused. Survived it, and I never let them see me cry. Check, check, check, check.
I bought the car of my dreams, a Porsche Carrera, after graduating. Goal met. I wanted to get married. Finally met and married my husband at the ripe old age of 35. Goal met. We wanted children, and I produced a daughter with frightening speed.
And one day, I woke up and I realized there was nothing left. All those life goals, done. What else is there? What do I want now? What life achievement is out there?
I’ve given this a fair bit of thought.
Many aspire for grandchildren, which would be nice, but it is not a goal for me.
I want to make more friends. I guess that’s sort of a goal.
I’d like to simplify my life by divesting myself of these possessions. But I don’t really want to.
I want to improve my jewelry techniques and make selling my work more of a career and less of a hobby. It’s a dream I cannot realize, since the loss of income would be unacceptable. That would be a goal, but it is inconveniently imaginary.
I want to get in better shape, but do I really? I abhor gyms; they bore me, and I don’t go. Must not be much of a goal, if I’m not doing anything about it..
I would like to write a book. It may or may not happen. I know I do have one in me. It’s probably the only true goal I have left.
What I really want is to quit my job. Scarcely a positive move.
Not wanting anything is an abyss you stare into. There is nothing at the bottom of it, at the end of it. In essence, life is over. I feel I should just cede what’s left to the next generation.
Not wanting is the end of the road. It brings on an unsurmountable depression. I am reminded always of Peggy Lee’s song “Is That All There Is?” I learned it as a kid, but didn’t realize the sadness and truth in it until I was older.
If you want material things, at least you are alive in a small way. You are moving toward something, persuading yourself that amassing collections is a vital “hobby”.
I’ve always felt I want too many tangible things, but that never gave me this sinking feeling that there is nothing left to achieve. That is a special kind of hell. A bottomless pit. And when hope is gone, that is a very, very dangerous thing. A person with nothing to lose is a disaster waiting to happen.