I looked up the word greed this morning, for personal reasons:
Greed: A strong desire for more; an overwhelming desire to have
more of something, such as money, than is actually needed.
I had been thinking of the financiers who manipulate financial documents, or the oil and pharmaceutical companies, or stock traders, as greedy. I was thinking of their greed as the straw that broke our economy’s back and that’s probably true. I was surprised, though, that greed meant simply to desire more than is needed. Greed is a noun, but it is also a state of mind.
I recently moved to a city where my son plays college football. I have a two bedroom apartment so that family and friends who come to a home game will have a place to stay. It’s okay that I want to see them, that I want them to stay with me. That’s what families do.
But, I began to obsess about curtains for the living and dining room windows to cover the yellowed vertical blinds. I decided on sheers to let some light in, pale gold in color. My towels are old and bleached in some spots and don’t match the bathroom rugs. I feel embarrassed by this. The lampshades are from 15 years ago, dark maroon in color, so I wanted some lighter gold shades to match the sheers. I added to the list a small white shade for the table-lamp by my bed, so I could trade the current too-big lampshade for the dark-maroon one in the guest room. I only have flannel sheets for the queen bed in the guest room, and it’s been 105-108 degrees for the last week. Flannel sheets are a punishment here. All I could see is what I believe I lacked and I didn’t want to LACK those things anymore. I WANTED THEM. I didn’t want to be ‘poor’ anymore and that was final!
Meanwhile, thoughts like, “The blinds are fine. Your towels are fine. Your family loves you. They don’t care about that stuff,” came and went. Or, “You have a roof over your head—a home. You have a kitchen and bathroom, even a washer and dryer! You have everything you need. There are so many who don’t.”
Of course, the more conflicted I was, the more stressed I became. I fell into self-pity and ate two chocolate donuts at one time and wanted to eat another. I ate it the next morning and my body, ever willing to be the messenger, offered up an asthma attack. “You suck!” I thought. (I know—my inner child was in monster-mode.) I woke up this morning with crusty eyes and the message, “Helloooo. You’re seeing is warped. Today is a good day to let go.” And at last, I did.
Today is also a good day for me to bare my soul and share what I’ve learned about greed. It’s not about curtains or towels. It is not about gold coins or the level of the riches we desire. Anyone can experience the negative emotion that takes over when we demand more than we need and pout when we don’t get it. For the record, the opposite of greed is gratefulness and that’s the place of abundance.