I was practically swamped with possibilities the other day.
When shopping for tennis shoes, there were abundant options. Running shoes. Walking shoes. Hiking shoes. Cross-training shoes. Red ones. Gray ones. White ones. Orange ones. Blue ones. All sorts of color combinations.
A couple of times, I thought about giving up, figuring my old shoes could last a little longer.
But I persevered. I’d gotten it in my head that I needed new shoes, and by all that’s holy and good, they would be mine.
The United States of America is a great place, and anyone who says different is looking for a fight.
All the options available to us can be a curse, as well as a blessing.
The big thinkers call it “affluenza,” a disease peculiar to countries with a large middle class.
It’s relatively easy to meet our basic needs of food, clothing and shelter. It’s a little harder to find someone to love, but most of us manage for spurts of time, if not actual lifetimes.
Consider the fruit and the flower.
Fruit nourishes the body, so it’s a basic need. A flower nourishes the soul, which is important for a full, rich life, though not technically necessary for survival.
These days, we’re surrounded by products that aren’t technically necessary, but they feel like genuine needs, due to persuasive Madison Avenue pitchmen and the powerful force of peer pressure.
I’m not pointing fingers. I’ve craved things. After watching ads for Keen sandals and seeing them around town, I could taste my desire.
“John Smith’s wife let him have a pair,” I told my wife.
“I’m not John Smith’s wife,” she said.
You better believe I bought a pair, and I’m pleased with them, but that sense of need has worn off, making me wonder how real it was in the first place.
When Dad gets philosophical, he likes to say, “How bad can it be? I’ve never missed a meal.”
We say a blessing before sit-down meals at our house, but we don’t say a blessing every time we eat.
It’s as though we’ve forgotten that food is basic for survival.
I can imagine a tribe of ancient hunters with ribs poking against their skin as they track a buffalo separated from the herd.
They make the kill, cut off a piece of meat and hold it up to the sky, giving thanks in the truest sense of the word.
If you’ve never been hungry, you’re among the luckiest people to walk the Earth.
I have my new shoes, a pair of gray and red Nikes. I’m happy, and the fever has passed.
An hour ago, I gave into my craving and bought a Baby Ruth from a vending machine. I ate it without a single thought of giving thanks.
That sense of need might have passed, too – for some of us, maybe, but surely not for all.
M. SCOTT MORRIS is a Daily Journal feature writer. Contact him at (662) 678-1589 or firstname.lastname@example.org.