You can easily have all you want by not wanting much. You can’t possibly have all you want by making more money.

And isn’t “want” the most intriguing word? It means lack (“For want of a nail the shoe is lost, for want of a shoe the horse is lost, for want of a horse the rider is lost” – George Herbert, 1651) and it means wish for – which are so often one in the same.

But we don’t want (wish for) the things we don’t know we want (lack) – hence the importance of advertising and the scary power of “Dallas” reruns in the Third World.

And “want” is only sometimes synonymous with “need.” Sure, for lack of a nail – but how about for lack of a Sea-Doo?

The miraculous thing about this country is that almost everybody has food, clothing, shelter, and extraordinary devices undreamed of until a moment ago in human history: radios, telephones, color televisions, cars, radios in their cars – even enough dough to fly across the country once a year, if they plan ahead and stay over a Saturday. I speak here not just of the great middle class. This list pertains to most (sadly not all) lower-income Americans as well.

I consider myself blessed that, in material terms, I don’t want (lack) anything, and don’t even really want much. (My friends will tell you this is just a lack of taste. They marvel at my satisfaction with mid-priced cars and mail-order clothes.)

How might you become similarly blessed? Well, maybe you already are. Or maybe you will decide that not having to strive for stuff you don’t need is the greatest luxury of all.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Friday: Turning 50


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