What you want may not be what you need

Published 8:31 am Friday, February 26, 2021


Community columnist

I found myself recently with an overwhelming desire for some ice cream. I did the calculations in my head to decide if it was worth me having to put on my big boy pants and go out in public. I decided that it was, so I drug myself to the store.

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While I stood there in the aisle looking through the fogged-up door at the ice cream, I was trying to figure out why the price for a half gallon of ice cream was cheaper than the small pints that I wanted to purchase. It was as if the ice cream gods were tempting me.

I stood there trying to figure out a way to convince my conscience that it was alright to buy the bigger box of ice cream. I realize I could just eat what I wanted and put the rest in the freezer. However, you and I both know that’s not going to happen.

The entire box would go down my throat faster than a fat kid on a see saw and I’d be scraping the bottom of that box and licking the sides clean before sundown.

As I stood in the aisle waiting for the angel and the devil on my shoulders to finish battling it out, I saw a woman with a small child who was begging for a box of Eskimo Pies. As the mother dragged him down the aisle by the arm, the child said, “But Mom, I need them.”

I began to think how very different it is to want something and to actually need it.

According to my fifth grade health class, the only thing we need is food, water and oxygen. If you believe the Beatles, then “All You Need is Love.”

However, what we want may be an entirely different thing.

I can remember as a child, anytime my parents would say “You need to do this or that”, I could bet that it wasn’t something I wanted to do.

I have spent many days where I needed to go to work but not very many of those days were ones that I wanted to go. I didn’t really need to work, I needed to eat. Somehow those two things tend to go together.

I recall in the summer of 1973 my mother and I went into Brady’s Five and Dime store that was on Main Street in Stanford. I was only 5 years old at the time and all the items on the shelves were sensory overload for me. However, as I looked up, I saw a red drum on the top shelf. It was kid-size and came with drumsticks. I was convinced that I needed that drum.

We always got everything we needed everyday of the year. However, on Christmas or birthdays, we got something that we wanted. Usually that meant scouring the pages of the Sears catalog and going straight to the toy section.

However, this time I was set on that drum. When we went back to the store a few weeks later, the drum was gone, and I was devastated that someone had purchased it. I didn’t find out until Christmas that year it was my mother who had purchased the drum and it was under our tree for me to open.

Eventually, I came back to myself and realized I was still standing in the aisle looking at ice cream. I ended up buying the half gallon and realized that while I may not have needed that much ice cream, I sure did want it. At the moment, I’m too stuffed to tell the difference.