Ever wonder what happened to that kid who got his Red Ryder BB gun in A Christmas Story? How long it took until he shot his eye out? How long until the stock was broken and it was left to rust out behind their ramshackle garage?
Yeah, I know. It’s a bit cynical, but life is like that, isn’t it? We obsess about something until we get it and then find it is not as great as we thought. In the words of Spock, “After a time, you may find that having is not so pleasing a thing after all as wanting. It is not logical, but it is often true.” This is a common fallacy and the source of much unhappiness. There is, however, another aspect of wanting that you may not have considered.
Think of something you want badly, perhaps obsessively. Maybe it is occupying all your thoughts, preventing you from pursuing additional goals. The most important thing in your life.
Now imagine getting a magic wand that gives you what you want. Is that enough? If you had this one thing would that be enough?
Note we’re not talking about making deals with Devil, the kind of folk tales which always work out badly for the poor schmuck trying to get ahead. Imagine you get exactly what you want, no bad Karma, no trickery, but also nothing else special. You get your million dollars, but you’re still dumb and ugly. The Cubs win the World Series but you still have to pay the rent. You get the date with Mr/Ms Hot Stuff, but they are still null and void in the intelligence department. That sort of thing. Still happy?
By definition, obsessions crowd other things out of our lives. Obsessing about that bombshell at the gym makes you overlook the beauty in the office next door. Chasing riches makes overlook the richness of today. Think of all the things you’ve been ignoring because of your obsession. They must be unimportant, right? So imagine a life without them, a life in which you win your prize but make no progress on the rest of your life. How do you feel?
Life is a tapestry, woven of many threads. Focusing exclusively on a single thread may leave us with a pale, uninteresting life woven from cheap threads that break under the slightest stress. Our goal in life is a rich, vibrant tapestry, not a single bright thread on a dull background.