And when that happens, I have to ask myself what is it that I really want? And if I get that, will it be enough? I’m beginning to suspect that I’m barking up the wrong tree.
Wanting something creates in me a desire for something more, then something more and something more, and so on. It’s a hunger that never goes away and feeding it only increases the feeling. I’m not being fed, I’m suffocating.
The more “stuff” I accumulate, the less I seem able to hear or see the world around me. Stuff may insulate me from lack, but it also isolates me. I end up sitting in a metaphorical room just staring at a lot of stuff. But I’m still hungry because – evidently – no amount of stuff fills me.
So if getting doesn’t meet my hunger, what does? It turns out to be giving.
Giving pushes me away from the sucking vortex of perceived need, and asks a different question. What do I already have that I could give away?
Suddenly I’m empowered! It’s up to me. I’m not controlled by external forces or driven by desire, I have oxygen and free will and space. I can share! And I can share a lot. All this stuff can suddenly mean something. I can give and I can make room and I can grow, and I can give again. It’s not dependent on any one or any thing else.
The more I test this theory, the more it is proved true. My children and I pruned a rosemary bush in the yard. With all the branches, we decided to make little bundles tied with ribbon to distribute around our neighborhood. The satisfaction was enormous and we did it freely, without expectation of response. There was an uncomplicated pleasure on my kids faces that I rarely see.
When we give to the homeless or help someone with groceries, or reach up to a shelf for someone else, our hunger is filled. What we do is small, but we talk about how it made our day.
I have discovered what it is I really want: I want to feel whole. I want to feel like I have used my life for something. I want to feel like I contributed, that I made someone else’s life better, that I made someone else happy. And that can’t be done through what I get. It can only be done through what I give.
And in the giving? I find all the joy and none of the hunger.
Jesus didn’t say ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’ because it’s something we should do. He said it, I realize, because it simply is.