Last month, I listened to my son explain why he needed a pair of air Jordan’s. It took less one minute and a rueful glare for me to refute his argument but nevertheless he ended up with a $100 pair of Nikes which ended up lost in a matter of weeks. I learned a few things from this interaction;
1) My son has a very potential future in hostage negotiations
2) Sport check does not accept the single mom card as a form of payment
3) My son did not appreciate his shoes because they fulfilled a want-not a need.
We are taught to crave what we need, to turn our needs into our desires. But in a day and time where so many of us live or lives with our needs met, wants is all that remains.
Now, of course there are different types of needs. There’s my body’s physical need for all things cheese related, the need to live in a home that isn’t littered in half eaten apples covered in flies because my kids ‘didn’t like it’, the need to eat a meal that isn’t instantly cooked by adding hot water. When I talk about needs, I’m talking about our higher needs as individuals and humans. Our need to give and receive love, our need to be heard and respected, our need for human reciprocity and empathy.
I paid a funeral call recently and sat beside a woman who lost her husband of 45 years. My uncharitable first thought was ‘damn, you got out easy’. I want to clarify this statement by saying I wish absolutely no ill will against the father of my children. This comment is more of a reflection of the process and social standing divorce leaves you in.
Listening to her talk of the only man she had ever loved and watching her eyes fill with tears, it was clear. This woman had made her husband her need and vice versa. As I sat there I said to myself- I want to need someone. I want to open my heart enough to let someone in and take the chance they may disappoint me and may hurt me. But more so, the chance that they may not. The chance that I can find someone I need and have needed all along. That doesn’t take away from me and doesn’t make me less of an individual or make me any less Beyoncé. It strengthens me and fuels me in the way the medication I take to make my body healthy does. In the way that healthy food and exercise powers your body, so I’m told. In the way that true, deep and meaningful love fuels your heart and soul.
We need people in all ways everyday. On a daily basis I need my parents. I don’t just cry for my mom when I’m sick or call my dad when the garage door breaks again, but I need them and rely on them like any child does a parent. Like any person relies on someone they know they can count on.
We are used to being disappointed, we are used to being hurt. Many of us are used to figuring it out on our own and not needing others. But perhaps in not needing others we’ve really only shortchanged ourselves. If we don’t need others that means, we ourselves aren’t needed either. There’s not much scarier than living in a world where your existence is completely ambivalent.
Call me a romantic, a fool with love in my eyes and hope in my heart but I can’t teach my child to be happy with Wal-Mart shoes while lusting after Channing Tatum. My son didn’t appreciate his Nikes because while he needed shoes, deep down he knew he was arguing for a want. When he lost those shoes and I told him I would replace them but I couldn’t buy him another fancy pair of shoes, only ones from Wal-Mart, he understood. He understood that I was fulfilling his needs. Interesting to note that those shoes have not gone missing for even a day.
Perhaps our fault in marriage is that we are looking to fulfill our wants when our basic needs aren’t met. We want adventure and passion but don’t want to open ourselves to the chance of being hurt. We want the Air Jordan’s without having any shoes on our feet at all. Shoes aren’t essential in getting from point A to B, but they sure make the walk a lot easier and a lot better looking.