Wanting/Having

Father Sebastian McDonald, C.P.
Father Sebastian McDonald, C.P.

A newspaper recently cited a choice to be made: to want what one has, or to have what one wants. Is there a difference between them?   Having what one really wants: can it be truly different from wanting what one already has? After all, why would anyone want what he or she already has, unless they don’t realize that they already have it? If a person already possesses something, is there any basis for continuing to want it? Perhaps, however, one doesn’t realize that he or she has it, and so continues to desire it. But, if that’s the case, there must be little about something to recommend it, that is, little attractiveness about it, if one has it in one’s possession, and doesn’t even recognize it. For surely, if it’s something one really treasures, how could such a person fail to realize that it is already in his or her possession?

Possibly, of course, because one has wanted it, not for him or herself, but for someone else: a friend or a family member. That may possibly dull or dim the awareness that the treasured item has already been in his or her possession, possibly for a long time. It’s just a matter of forgetfulness, or oversight. Such a scenario might account for one person telling another that there’s something I really would like to have, understandably leading another to ask why? you already have it.

Or, and this may be less unlikely, one simply wants more of the desirable item. It’s so intensely desired that one cannot get his or her fill of it, and keeps wanting more of it. Is this not the case, at times, when one nation goes to war with another? It could be a larger nation starting a fight with a smaller nation because it simply wants more tillable territory, or more grazing land, or more mineral-rich veins of precious metals. When this is the case, then it’s not a matter of oversight or forgetfulness, but of greed or blatant overreach.

On the other hand, we consider the implications of having what one wants. And we wonder why such a scenario would eventuate. Now in a positive light, it suggests that one is perfectly content and satisfied with his or her situation in life, precisely because he or she has no unsatisfied wants, needs or desires, and is quite content with what he or she has. This may mean that life has generously bestowed its choicest favors on such a person and provided for every contingency or eventuality. And, to such a person’s credit, he or she recognizes, and appreciates, that life has been good to oneself, leaving no unmet wants or desires.

Of course, there’s a more negative appraisal of such a situation, suggesting: well, such a person likely doesn’t want very much out of life for him or herself, and so is easily satisfied with whatever comes along. That is, this kind of person simply doesn’t expect much out of life. He or she doesn’t aim high, and too easily settles for whatever life “dishes out” to one. That person lacks drive, ambition and determination to aim higher, and to improve the quality of life which one is currently pursuing. If life were made up of people who took what came and easily settled for what happened to be at hand, there would be no improvements in life, no inventiveness, no drive upward and onward, and attitudes like: why not continue to live in the house that one’s parents lived in?   Such a person reasons: look, I have what I want: a house.

Father Sebastian McDonald, C.P.
Father Sebastian McDonald, C.P.
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Author: CPP

We are a community of laymen and laywomen who, with vowed Passionists, seek to share in the charism of St. Paul of the Cross through prayer, ongoing spiritual formation, and proclamation of the message of Christ Crucified.

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