Life & Stuff

Need. Want. Desire.

Image: Amy McPherson

It’s been a while. A whole month in fact, since I last wrote. Sorry.

The years of planning for the big international move (as a couple) is finally in rapid motion and in this past month I’ve….

  • Sold our unit
  • Gave away most of our furniture and other odd stuff
  • Sent the cats away to two crazy-cat-loving friends
  • Packed our lives into five cardboard boxes
  • Shipped off the husband

And I am about to donate my car to charity.

Big changes you say? Just as well I love change, and giving things away, getting cleared of a mortgage and knowing that I can fit everything I need to live in a backpack has been an extremely liberating exercise.

I’ve never been an overly sentimental person, and have never really had issues with parting with something. Travel postcards are gone, books I’ve collected over the years are gone, items of bits and pieces are gone. The hardest items on the list for me were the cats – tears were shed! (Following closely by seeing the husband off at the airport)

This exercise also got me thinking about our needs and wants. I’ve gone through the process analysing what we ‘needed’ and what we ‘wanted’ to keep and had found it hard to justify anything that we own as a ‘need’.

Travelling over the years has taught me that in today’s society we ‘need’ too much, and giving away all our stuff has been an experience that proved, to ourselves, that we don’t need all these stuff to survive. There is a fine line between ‘need to have’ and a ‘strong desire to have’ and often this is blurred by society expectations and marketing.

“We need to have a multi-bedroom house because we want children.”

“We need a car because it takes two trains to get to where I work.”

“I need a new phone because it’ll make me more efficient.”

Do we really ‘need’ or is it just more convenient to have? What about families who can raise three children crammed in one small bamboo hut in rural Vietnam? Is it a need? If so, how did their children grow up? And what’s wrong with catching two trains? Is it a need? Or is it just nice to have the convenience?

So I’ve stopped saying ‘need’ as much.

I am not saying that we shouldn’t desire things. Heck, I desire things! However, confusing desires and needs can just make us unhappy, because we’ll always have a never ending list of needs that will continue to grow as new technologies and new things become available.

Just because everyone think you need it, doesn’t mean you actually need it, is all I am saying.

Meanwhile though, I do miss the husband and the cats. I don’t need them to survive, but they are ‘nice to have’ :)

Share your thoughts below!