Wednesday, April 29, 2015

On Not Wanting Things

                                                by Laura Crum

            I’ve discovered something. Most of you may already know it. The greatest luxury in the world is wanting what you’ve got.
            I spent a lot of my life wanting things—like most people, I guess. I wanted a certain man, or a certain horse, or to compete at a certain event and do well, or to own a horse property, or to be a published author, or have a certain rose in my garden, or to be thinner, or to have a child. Things like that. Big things and little things—I wanted things. Some of these things that I wanted, I got. Most of them, actually.
            There came a point where I was married to a man I loved and we had a child and a horse property and a lovely garden full of roses. I was a published author—I had a few horses that I was very fond of. And I was happy.
            Now I could have found more things to want. A newer truck, a better horse, a bigger house, to be a famous author and make more money—once again, to be thinner. But somehow I knew that those things were pointless. And I was happy. I truly was. For many, many years.
            When my much-loved husband died I was very sad. I still am very sad a lot of the time. And I accept this sadness; I don’t fight it. But Andy has given me so many signs that he is still with me that I am starting to trust in that. He also arranged that I would have plenty of money (by my standards, anyway—it wouldn’t be much money by a wealthy person’s standards). And at one point, I wondered—what did I want to do with that money?
            Many of my friends thought I should buy a new car. I had to think about it. We have a thirteen year old Ford diesel truck (the old Power Stroke engine) with one hundred thousand miles on it and a thirty year old Porsche. Neither qualified as a “reliable” vehicle according to some of the friends. Also, they knew I could afford a new car. Why not? And this was the beginning of my recent pondering along the lines of what do I want.
            Because after a bit of thought I realized that I did not want a new car or truck. There are practical reasons for this. The particular sort of diesel truck that I have has gone over three hundred thousand miles reliably for other friends who owned the same model. The Porsche can probably run for the rest of my life if I take care of it. Repairing and caring for these two solid, made-to-last vehicles makes much financial sense, compared to dumping a bunch of money on a not-made-to-last new car or truck. Not to mention the registration and insurance on these two older vehicles is minuscule compared to what it would be for a new car. But there’s more to it than that.
            I spent several months looking at cars and trucks going down the road, trying to decide what ones I might like to have. I gave myself mental permission to choose any car or truck. I looked at the practical vehicles that friends had recommended and at the cute ones (like brand new Mini-Coopers). I looked at new pickups. After awhile I began to notice something. The cars and trucks I was drawn to were, guess what? Older Porsche Carreras and biggish Ford diesel pickups—exactly the vehicles I already owned. I liked them better than anything else that I saw. And it dawned on me that maybe I wanted the thing that I had.
            Then there was the “sentimental” factor. Our truck and the little red car had carried my family on many, many adventures. Andy drove them both many hundreds of times. They had been reliable; they were part of our lives. Andy and I had meant to keep these vehicles and repair them as needed. We hadn’t meant to replace them. And it came to me that I wanted to stay on our path.
            So I had both the car and the truck cleaned up and sorted out, and I firmly resisted encouragement from friends to buy a newer “more reliable” vehicle. Having discovered how I felt about this, I began to apply the same sort of thinking to the rest of my life, and the results were interesting.
            Of course, the main thing that I wanted—to have Andy back in his physical form—no money could buy. But I began to become open to the possibility that we could go on together, just in a new way. And as I opened up to this the signs and messages and dreams came more often and more clearly. My life, though still filled with sadness, has become more magical in ways I never could have imagined. I am beginning to grow in trust—slowly. Part of this has been based on realizing that I want exactly the life I have—the same life I have had here for many years with my family. The life that we still have together.
            Some people suggested I take my son on a trip. Neither my son nor I seemed too motivated to do this, but I gave it some thought. I remembered all the lovely places in the world I had been and the places where I thought I might like to go. And then I looked at my two cozy little houses covered with rambling roses, and the small pond and the veggie garden and greenhouse, with the barn and horse corrals down the hill. All surrounded by the wild California woods without a house visible from my porches—only that big blue California coastal sky and the distant ridgeline. The Monterey Bay is ten minutes from my front door and I know a beach that is almost always empty of people. I tried to think of somewhere that I would like to go visit, but the thought of motels with not-linen sheets washed by indifferent maids (let alone bedspreads that they might not have washed at all) rather paled in comparison to my own very comfortable bed in my bedroom filled with beautiful things that I love. Views of pretty beaches were accompanied by thoughts of the people that would be thronging them. Any sort of travel would involve busy highways, possibly hectic airports and crowded planes, almost certainly cities…ack! I don’t like busy highways or cities at all. And I hate airports. I realized that once again I wanted the thing that I had. There was nowhere that I wanted to be more than this place where I live.

            The same thinking has helped me to see that there really isn’t anything I want other than to tend my little life here with love—and I have enough means to do this tending. I can repair and maintain our home here, and replace what wears out. I can buy an occasional embroidered blouse if I want, or a mocha at the coffee shop, or golf lessons for my son. I can afford the vet bills that come along…etc. This makes me happy—as happy as I can be right now. I am so grateful to Andy for doing this for us. Also grateful that I have come to this particular realization, which gives me some peace. And thus not wanting things has come to seem the greatest gift I could have been given at this point in my life.


horsegenes said...

This reminds me of the poem "When I am an Old Horse Woman" - not the old part - but loving and wanting what you have and being happy with who you are.

Laurie said...

What a beautiful post, Laura. Thank you. And yes, that is really the secret to happiness--to want what you have.

jenj said...

What a beautiful post! Thank you for such poetry. :)

Mrs Shoes said...

Thanks for the reminder.

Anonymous said...

It is difficult to switch off the "wanting" when you have what you want. It's a lesson I wish more young people would learn. I hope your son has learned from you and his father, his life will be so much better for it.

Val said...

I love this philosophy. Having the means to maintain it is the best of all.

Linda said...

Beautiful post. The same thought hit me this year and I told my husband I'm at the point in life where I don't "want" anything more than what I have. It is a place of peace.