Random Thoughts from a Restless Mind

Dr. Darrell White's Personal Blog

Cape Cod

Want, Need, and ROI

Beth and I watched a rather disturbing movie the other night, “Winter Bone”. Very impressive acting by the lead. Hard to watch, what with all of the privation displayed, hardships open to view without airbrush. The movie instantly became a part of my ongoing education in the vastness between ‘want’ and ‘need’. Compare the stated goal of the 17yo heroine–I can’t keep this family together if I lose this house–with the bleatings of some Gen Y’er in the WSJ: “we face a bleaker investment future than our parents did”.

Seriously, he used the word ‘bleak’ to describe his investment future. We have ‘evolved’ as a people in North America where someone, presumably with a straight face and in all seriousness, uses the word ‘bleak’ in the context of his potential lifetime ROI. That type of navel gazing is part and parcel of a society displaced from the concept of “need”.

Food, shelter, and clothing. We’ve mostly licked those issues in North America. That’s why a movie like “Winter Bone” with its unsparing depiction of a life in America still focused on food and shelter is so disturbing. A former partner’s son took his life recently on the day that his house was re-possessed. And yet, his family had already been re-sheltered, the ‘need’ covered. I’ll not cast aspersions on this young man and his tragedy; I do not for a moment pretend to understand it, and please trust me that Clan White has had much too much close experience with this sort of thing to be dismissive or disrespectful. I only bring it up in order to marvel at those who persevere, when all seems lost and hopeless, in the pursuit of real needs.

Look around you today. What do you need? I’ll go out on a limb and say the truth is ‘nothing’. Here in our family we have 20% or so of the income of 5 years ago, 5% of the net worth, and yet we live in abundance in the White house. Heck, we have a washer, a dryer, and a dishwasher! Beth and I always said that we would be grown-ups, we will have made it when we have a washer and dryer of our own. Yet even those are simply ‘wants’ that are closer to our needs, but are still ‘wants’, nonetheless.

Look around yourself today. See that all of your needs, your true needs, are more than covered. Want what you need. Need what you have. You have it all.

Everything else is just ROI.


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