What Stuff do you Need? What Stuff do you Want?

Needs and wants are perhaps even more significant a topic at this time of year.  Every year I am faced with getting my husband both birthday and Christmas presents.  This strains my brain to figure out what he “wants” or “needs”.

Gifts of need or want?

never knowing what to buy

A strain on my brain

Then yesterday I received this comment from a “linkedin” friend:

“You seem like a lady who has everything?  

I wonder…what do you want for

At first, I wondered what I had said in a post or comment to give the impression that I had everything?

Humph, All I want is water

Then I wondered if I really take the time to think about the distinction between what I need and what I want.

Then I thought about Ida who has to weigh this question daily since she  is, out of necessity,  forced to survive on the bare minimum.

Susan Gammage wrote an excellent post on the topic.  It’s too long to repost but here’s how it starts:

“Recently I was listening to a podcast on our relationship to money by my favorite minister, Jeremy McClung of the Muskoka Community Church, which left me asking the question:  When is enough, enough?  This is an important question to ask especially at this season of excess we call Christmas.”
“In his talk, Jeremy handed out index cards and asked us to write “stuff I have” on one side and to write “stuff I want” on the other.  We were to make a detailed list of everything we own (land, cars, houses, clothes, electronics, appliances, toys etc)”.
“What surprised me was how much was on my “want” side!  Even though I have everything I need, and more, the list of what I wanted was longer than the list of what I owned.  This was profound!  I urge you to take out a sheet of paper right now and do this exercise for yourself.”
“My income comes from a small disability pension, supplemented by some paid work, and I live in a small one bedroom apartment in a “geared to income” building.  Some people look at my lifestyle and long for me to be better off financially, and sometimes I wonder if they’re right.  
My well-wishers see the transformative path I’ve been on for the past couple of decades, and how far I’ve come in ridding myself of the anxiety and depression that robbed me of my life, and they think it’s time for me to get back into the “real world” and get paid for all the work I do.

Susan citing the following REALLY got my attention:

If you could fit the entire population of the world into a village consisting of 100 people, maintaining the proportions of all the people living on Earth, that village would consist of:

  • 57 Asians
    21 Europeans
    14 Americans (North, Central and South)
    8 Africans
  • There would be:
    52 women and 48 men
    30 Caucasians and 70 non-Caucasians
    30 Christians and 70 non-Christians
  • Humph, Zero fish?

  • In addition:
    6 people would possess 59% of the wealth and they would all come from the USA
    80 would live in poverty
    70 would be illiterate
    50 would suffer from hunger and malnutrition
    1 would be dying
    1 would be being born
    1 would own a computer
    1 (yes, only one) would have a university degree

    Humph, One Blobfish left high and dry

      If we looked at the world in this way, the need for acceptance and understanding would be obvious.     But, consider again the following…

  • If you have never experienced the horror of war, the solitude of prison, the pain of torture, were not close to death from starvation, then you are better off than 500 million people
  • If you can go to your place of worship without fear that someone will assault or kill you, then you are luckier than 3 billion (that’s right) people.
  • If you have food in the fridge, clothes on your back, a roof over your head and a place to sleep, you are wealthier than 75% of the world’s population.
  • If you currently have money in the bank, in your wallet and a few coins in your purse, you are one of 8 of the privileged few amongst the 100 people in the world.
  • If your parents are still alive and still married, you’re a rare individual.
  • If you’re reading this message, you’re extremely lucky, because you don’t comprise one of those 2 billion people who still can’t read.    (source unknown: http://www.movebeyond.net/417/know-no-limits/quote/lightening-in-a-jar/

Dear Linkedin Friend,  Thank you for asking.

My greedy little ego will probably never be satisfied.

My soul tells me I have everything I need. 


Humph, All I need is water.

7 thoughts on “What Stuff do you Need? What Stuff do you Want?

  1. Very appropriate post for the holidays Judy:) Yes stuff, the bain of my existence:))
    I love to go to thrift shops to find the cast off treasures. I must admit I’m a patsy
    for the unusual, or beautiful objects. I hate malls, and shopping centers.
    I have for more than twenty years, never give anyone anything I know they won’t use,
    or like. I gave gift certificates to somewhere I know the person would enjoy.
    I can think of my closets and garages of places I lived. Most of that ‘stuff’ went to
    a charity.
    I have been volunteering a the city food shelf this mouth. A whole new eye opener
    for me. These are the poorest of poor that come in. Because of the demand of food stuff,
    from us, in markets, they get food they would never be able to afford. These people
    don’t have very much stuff. They are so grateful they can come there to get their stuff. Food. Those statistics distill down to, what we do, who we are. where we are, as people. Thanks Judy. Happy Holidays to everyone:)


  2. wishing you peace, calm, the smell of wildflower meadows, the play of light on the leaves of trees, the prismatic colours of a dragonfly’s wings, serendipities and whimsies, the gentle sound of wind chimes, long walks with Max, tummy rubs for Max followed by ear scratches and kisses (if he is a kissy dog) — all the gifts that money can’t buy; the things that bring you joy and contentment. Here’s to real, not Hallmark, momemts of stain-glass light reflections, flowers in the spring, family and friends (real, virtual, and furry). When I think of what others must do to even survive to see the next sunrise, I feel guilty for whining about pain, disappointments, being on the outside looking in. So far, I have a bed at night, some food in the fridge, change to give to put in the Salvation Army kettles, stuffed toys to donate. I cry for the life I lost, and for the lives of those who struggle so hard to live. This timeof the year should be about giving to those “less fortunate” — for there is always someone worse off than you.
    Wishing you and Max all the best for 2012 — I hope it’s a year of beauty and whimsy. (and treats for Max of course!)


  3. I gave you a gift today, that may get you more blog readers for your fish articles…I started to mention the fish in the description of your blog…but I think I did pretty good at putting a worm on the hook to get people interested.

    if you have’t…go to my blog…You WON an Award!

    And I feel so very lucky right now. I may not have the best health, but I have much that you listed.
    And hope and pray, I never have to experience some of the horrors that are in this world.

    thank you for the wake up call.


  4. Excellent post.. I mean it makes one stop and think.. Judy, in my last training session one of the participants asked me that what happens when we live with the internal orientation..my own spontaneous answer based on my experience was that slowly the non-essentials in life start taking lesser energy , time and resources and that perhaps makes one happy.. . RS:)


  5. The only thing you may want are more blog readers for your famous fish articles!! I left you a private message on Facebook, only after realizing you don’t get there often. Happy Holidays to You, your famiy and to MAX Love, Laurie F.


    • Laurie F.
      For someone who doesn’t know me you know me too well. I was too reluctant to mention wanting more blog readers for my fish articles so I put Bob BlobFish on the post — a subtlety you so cleverly figured out!


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