Filling a need

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Somewhere along the line in the past 50-60 years, “I want” has evolved into our vernacular, sadly replacing “I need.”

And if the vast difference between the two is hard for you to comprehend, then you’re part of the problem.

This simple lesson in Living Life 101, was greatly illuminated recently when a caring, thinking young son took the time to carefully craft a hand-written note tucked inside a Father’s Day card.

In the note, the son wrote how he had always been amazed because his Dad “never wanted anything.”

He spoke of the many birthdays and Christmases, shopping trips, vacations, special family events, or just a quick trip to the convenience store, where purchases were made but very little or nothing for the old man because he always said, “I don’t need anything.”

“I could never figure out why you never wanted anything,” wrote the son. “Every time, we’d all get something or buy something, and we’d ask you and you’d just say ‘I don’t need anything.”

The son knew the family could afford such things, but remained mystified all his years growing up how consistent his old man was on this topic.

Now in his mid-20s, it finally dawned on the son one day as he pondered what to get his Dad for Father’s Day.

He doesn’t want anything because he doesn’t need anything! reasoned the son, who went on to write that he knew his father grew up poor in a big family where “need” trumped “want” eight days a week; where doing without most of the time made doing with feel so damn good when it finally occurred.

Since the 1950s after World War II, parents who survived that global and economic tragedy turned a corner in raising their children, with many abiding by the mantra, “By God, my kids aren’t going to suffer like I did! They’re going to have what I never had!”

And for each ensuing generation, that understandable focus grew more acute and was applied daily in all walks of life until our children - through no fault of their own - became doted upon, entitled, self-centered consumers of buy now, buy new. I want. I want. I want.

Not, I need. But, I want!

And in one simple Father’s Day note, the son revealed he had come to know the difference.

That night, not because he needed to, but because he wanted to, the father went to sleep with a smile on his face and tears in his eyes.

(Paul Struck)