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Sunday, May 23, 2004

I want that!

I hate to generalize, but I think it’s fair to say that most of us go through life 'wanting stuff'. This is not to say we are greedy or selfish, but rather that we go through phases where we see something and absolutely have to have it. And, the truth is, if we make enough (or save enough) we can usually figure out a way to have most of what our little hearts desire.

For some people this 'have to have' impulse focuses on a fancy car, the 'perfect' pair of black pumps or a sophisticated watch, while others are drawn to sleek computers or the latest electronic gewgaw. I’ll freely admit to occasionally succumbing to the insatiable, irrational 'wanting' of many of these things (no, not the pumps), combined with the arrogant feeling that, with a little budgeting, nearly anything is within my grasp.

But I have also noticed over the years that I have started to have similarly strong longings for more intangible things like status or lifestyle… and I’m realizing that these are things that require more than desire and a careful money management to attain.

There’s an older couple living next door to us who are the kind of neighbors people dream about having. When we moved in, they brought over a delicious homemade cake and a genuine offer of assistance with anything we might need to make our move into the neighborhood more comfortable.

When smoke came billowing out of our windows one afternoon (after Zahava put the oven on 'self-clean' and took the baby for a walk), these thoughtful people began calling everyone we knew until they managed to track her down. Whenever we, or our kids, meet either of these lovely folks on the street, they always stop to offer a warm word, a compliment, or a cheerful observation about the day. They never mention health issues (of which there have been some) or gossip… and the only topics of conversation are positive ones.

The other night, Zahava and I were invited next door to their house for a 'meal of thanksgiving'. As usual, their house was full of doting children and grandchildren, but the crowd was augmented by a group of neighborhood friends. It seems two weeks earlier, the wife had been in a serious car accident, and although the car had flipped several times and had been completely destroyed, she had miraculously escaped without so much as a scratch.

Many people would have come away from such an experience with vague feelings of anger over the loss of an expensive car or the random circumstances of the accident. However, the first and only instinct this couple had was complete and unshakable gratitude. Therefore, they prepared this lavish dinner so that their friends and family could join them in giving thanks for a happy outcome.

Their children and grandchildren fussed over them even more than usual throughout the evening, making it clear to even a stranger, their profound gratitude and relief. The husband explained to the assembly with tears standing in his eyes how grateful he was to still have the love of his life, and he made sure everyone understood precisely to Whom he was grateful for her escape.

As I watched this couple almost twice my age exchanging comfortable pleasantries in the kitchen, basking in the unabashed affection of their friends and family, I realized that here was something special… something that you don’t get just because you save or budget for it.

The old clichés about '… richer and poorer', and '… sickness and health' are often simply little white lies young people tell one another when they can’t imagine poverty or sickness (or worse) intruding on their well-laid plans. Having spent an emotional evening with a couple that is reaping the rewards of a life lived unconditionally, full of gratitude and love, I realize…

…I want that!

Posted by David Bogner on May 23, 2004 | Permalink

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Thanks for putting things into perspective and reminding everyone about what's truly important. What a beautiful story.

Posted by: Ly_ly | May 23, 2004 5:56:02 PM

From where I sit ,it looks like you're well on your way to having that...

Posted by: val | May 24, 2004 5:03:46 AM

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