Objects of desire

Do you have what you want? Do you want what you have? Members of Salon's community, Table Talk, tell us what they covet this week.

By Salon Staff
June 29, 2007 2:17PM (UTC)
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comixchik -- 10:51 am Pacific Time -- Jun 25, 2007

I go back and forth on wanting things. Like most people, I am dazzled by the latest geegaw, and want it. Then I am uncomfortable with my wanting, knowing that (especially compared to the world) I've too much crap already (nothing like a recent move to underscore that), and that the planet is plundered for our endless wants.


On the other hand, if people didn't want, there would probably be no progress, and we'd all be living in trees still. How do you feel about want?

Vinca Minor -- 07:52 pm Pacific Time -- Jun 25, 2007 -- #3 of 54

I think very many people confuse the things they've been conditioned to want (by commercials and comparisons with their neighborhood Joneses) with needs. I spend a lot of time not always successfully trying to sort out my wants versus my needs.


I have way too much stuff left over from a past in which the future seemed a lot cheerier and more predictable and in which I acted in accordance with a role that no longer exists. Now I'm trying to dig my way out of my own sentimental accumulation of rubbish and find a new direction. My wants of the past have damn near buried me.

There are times, usually after despairing of being able to get the few things I do still think I want, that I wonder if the Buddhist approach of wanting nothing would be a good thing, but I don't seem to be able to do that. Thoughts heading in that direction seem to be too easily accompanied by the thought of being nothing, and that way lies something I'm not ready to do yet. What I'm working at is closer to just wanting what I have.

loretta-ann - 09:51 pm Pacific Time -- Jun 25, 2007 -- #5 of 54


What a good topic -- I'm one of those who "want" big time. But somehow, my little tiny brain is beginning to catch on that new stuff doesn't always bring happiness. In fact, I'd say it never does, except for maybe a few seconds after exploring said object after it's in the house and loaded up. I'm thinking in particular of two major purchases that I made in the last year that just didn't cut it for me. One was a big-screen TV and the other was a big-screen computer, a Mac with a 27-inch display -- I think, not sure. Because both of these items ended up getting sold within the first couple of months on Craigslist. The reason? I just didn't feel good about it. The TV, every time I'd walk into the living room, I'd gag -- it was awful, and that's only a 37-inch. Sold that baby!

By the time you've lowered the price enough to compete, you should be learning a lesson, but I had to buy two "big" things I couldn't really afford -- or more to the point didn't need -- before I caught on that these things only made me uncomfortable. It was wild. I didn't understand the revulsion, but I go with my intuition on these matters, and if it don't feel right -- well, what is the point? I ask you.


surrendernow -- 08:15 am Pacific Time -- Jun 26, 2007 -- #8 of 54

Maybe we need to divide wants and needs into two realms: material and social.

I think I've distilled my wants down to a few things: a really good MP3 player (got it), a really nice computer (don't have it) and a really comfortable home (adequate, but not ideal).


I don't have a lot compared to others in my social circle, but I still feel like I have way too much crap. My wife agrees but periodically goes out and brings home more stuff that we didn't need anyway. I guess the desire to have something (anything) takes hold of some of us from time to time and we wind up with that perfect appliance or doodad that we use exactly once.

Then there's the intangible stuff. Wouldn't it be nice if we could just go out and get the perfect relationship, job and recognition?

But if there's one thing I want and can't buy -- none of us can buy -- it's time. Time to do nothing, learn something, exercise, have more sex, try something for the first time or just get a good long nap.


DesertDog -- 11:59 am Pacific Time -- Jun 26, 2007 -- #13 of 54

Interesting thread. I struggle with this. There is an irrational part of me that equates wanting something with weakness, regardless of the validity of the want. There is a measure of guilt that accompanies my purchase of nearly anything.

U2girl -- 01:57 pm Pacific Time -- Jun 26, 2007 -- #24 of 54

I go through this all the time. It's a constant struggle in my house to get rid of the things I thought I wanted. And now I don't want these things, and I think that getting rid of them will create room in my life -- and mind -- for those things that I really do want.


A friend and I are total book whores. Neither of us can seem to say "No" to new or used books. I've accepted that my house will always be full of books. But with regard to time (which another poster up-thread said is the one thing that we all want/need), this same friend said that when we buy books we're actually buying the time to read them. I'm trying to make that my mantra every time I go to the bookstore and even the library. I don't like the guilt associated with the pile of unread library books that sits next to my front door.

What do I do when I want something that I know I don't need? I'll often go to the store and put it in my cart and push it around for 10 minutes. At the end of that time, I realize that I've "owned" it and I ask myself if I still want it and if my life has changed because of it. Often, the answer to both questions is "No." The item finds its home on the store shelf and I go home with one less thing.

MLB -- 09:37 am Pacific Time -- Jun 27, 2007 -- #32 of 54

One of the Quaker tenets of simple living is to ask: Is this ______ central to my life? Can I live without it?


Janie Jones -- 10:42 am Pacific Time -- Jun 27, 2007 -- #39 of 54

We helped my mother-in-law move after her divorce about a month ago -- she went from a big old farmhouse to a small, two-bedroom cottage-type place. It was insane how much stuff had accumulated in that farmhouse. There was a whole room full of old fabric, an ancient church organ with rats living in it (!), cassette singles from the '80s ...

The other day, one of my co-workers mentioned that everything in her apartment besides her clothes is owned by her roommates. Appliances, etc. She said if she needed to, she could put everything important to her in the back of her Honda, and that's a really freeing feeling. I tend to agree.

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