My computer has this annoying habit where if I am on another website (for work or otherwise) and I receive an email, my email either pops open or the little internet explore icon in the bottom corner of my screen starts to flash. Conditioned like one of Pavlov's dogs, I immediately click over to see what earth-shattering communication awaits in my email. Nine times out of ten, I immediately delete the email. It is an ad from a clothing store that I used to frequent when in private practice or an email about a symposium on some esoteric principle of law that I just! have! to! attend! How about no.
Today, I was in the middle of reading a blog about how to simplify the holiday season and enjoy the true beauty of Christmas when the icon in the corner started to flash. I raced over and opened my email. The new email was from a shoe store claiming: "What You Need Now..." followed by their cleverly named new collection of overpriced shoes. While I normally delete these emails without a second thought, the title caught me off-guard today. "What I Need Now:" More Shoes.
I can think of a hundred and fifty things that I want right now: prints from etsy, a new dining room table (reclaimed barnwood, please, sigh), barstools for our renovated kitchen, a new floor to replace the electric blue carpet from the 80s in our dining room, collared shirts that are not stained and, of course, shoes. I want all those things, oh yes. I long to hang new prints on the wall, to decorate and have a "perfect" house. But "need," what do I truly need? None of that. I need food to eat, clothes to wear to work and air to breathe. In honesty, I probably "need" far less of those first two things than I have or consume.
Beyond the basics, I need to smell my little boy's hair as he slowly falls asleep on my chest at night. I need time to connect with my husband, time to remember the man I fell in love with almost thirteen years ago. I need to step outside these walls that contain me during the day and run so that I connect with the outside world and myself. I need to linger over a cup of coffee with my mom, fostering my realization that she knows exactly what it is like to be a working mom and that she will always give me a hug and tell me that it is going to be ok. I desperately need to figure out what I want to do when I grow up. I need to show my son that he can believe in people and that there is goodness, hope and love, if you just look for it. For none of those things are new shiny shoes required.
Truthfully, it is so hard to break the old habit of see what I want and reflexively enter the credit card number that I still keep stored in my head. For years, I told myself that I worked hard and so deserved that new pair of jeans or that piece of art or toy for my son. It is tough and with a bit of ache that I struggle to remind myself that I do not need, I want. And by saying no to the wants, I make it easier to address my true needs.