Tuesday, May 6, 2008

What You Really Need

Sitting around visiting with some of our favorite people last weekend created a sense of contentment in me that I rarely experience. The food was great, the accomodations comfy, and the time to reconnect absolutely priceless. I wasn't really in the mood to write much when I returned, because I had spent a satisfying amount of time sharing stories and experiences with people I love. I realized that that one intangible experience is what I treasure most about my life right now.

My husband had a business for a number of years, and every time it would kind of get caught up financially, he would hire a new person or invest in something he really needed. I kept thinking that someday it would get to a point where it was running smoothly and could coast without added infusions of cash, and that we would enjoy the benefits of owning a business. That never happened, but eventually the business was sold for a nice profit, and we focused on other things we really needed. For me it is plants for my garden, some sit-arounds for the house, or an occasional splurge on something for one of the grandchildren. For my husband it is hunting equipment and supplies for his hobby farm. We both enjoy travel and eating out.

Walker III only really needs a few things in his life. Diet cokes, bottles and cans, with and without caffeine; flashlights and batteries, in case the power goes out; and Polaroid film.

The Polaroid film has been a constant struggle with us, because to us, it looks like he just wastes it taking pictures of coke cans or his TV screen. He owns a nice camera with a docking station, and for half the cost of the Polaroid, he can produce an almost instant result, and a much nicer quality picture. He uses the digital occasionally, and has produced some almost post card quality scenics of the Mississippi River and the bridge at Memphis, but the Polaroid is an obsession.

For a while, I decided to just let it go, since it was his pay check to spend, and Walker seems to have so few desires otherwise. Then one week he and his attendant came home with a large quantity of Polaroid, and he was out of money. He couldn’t afford to go to a movie or feed the Coke machine at church, which he does with an almost religious fervor. I was distraught that the attendant had let him spend such a large amount on Polaroid and that Walker used it up in one afternoon. All he had to show for it was more out of focus pictures of nothing, at least to my eyes, to add to his collection.

When he asked me for more money, I lectured him ad infinitum about budgeting, the virtue of the Kodak, on and on. Walker listened in a sulky silence, then he just went back upstairs without saying much at all. About an hour later, he came back down and cleared his throat to begin what was for him and me a major developmental event. He reasoned with me. He told me that his love for his Polaroid pictures was like my love for him and his sisters. He had me. We came to an agreement that he could buy one ten pack of Polaroid per week, and he has honored that agreement for a couple of years now, and he has plenty of money for other things he wants. He decides what he really needs just like the rest of us.

Of course, most of what I think I need is really what I want. Thank goodness all of us actually have more than we need.

I hope that we'll think about what we really need, and identify and treasure the things that matter. Maybe we'll even realize that some of our excess baggage might make our journey lighter, and that someone else might find our discards to be just what they need.


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