In a brief scan of Facebook today I saw many posts with photos and the main comment: I want one.
I was especially perturbed by the photos of various animals that were posted along with that simple statement: a unique species of bat, a miniature donkey, a hedgehog, an armadillo, and a huge draft horse.
Anyone who knows me knows what I'm about to write. An animal is not a thing to want. An animal is a fellow living being who shares the earth with us and any wild animal not needing protection belongs exactly there - in the wild. Domesticated animals are not things to want either. The miniature donkey is going to need hooves trimmed and diet monitored and exercise and a friend of like species with which to spend all the hours you aren't out there with him/her. The huge draft horse is likely to require extra cost when it comes to getting hooves trimmed and teeth done as well as more food to eat and exercise and a friend as well.
Bringing an animal into our families is a huge decision.
But let's move beyond "wanting one" with regards to animals.
What about wanting one of actual things? Cars, houses, purses, shoes, cameras, mugs, hats, phones.
What do we really mean when we say "I want one?"
A few days ago I saw a Moomin mug on Twitter and I became completely obsessed with the idea of having one. I not only spent an hour shopping online, I purchased the one I found that I loved best. It arrived two days ago and it made me very happy. Every mug of coffee and tea I've had since I've had in my new Moomin mug and it brings me joy. And I will add that my old favorite and still dear to me mug is cracked in many places and on occasion leaks through the biggest crack. So, this was not an indulgent purchase. But the impulse to "want one" was strong and it prevailed.
One thing I try to do and I intend to do more of this year is to stop myself every time I "want one" of anything. I'll stop and look around my house and the farm and I'll make a little catalogue of all the marvelous things that are already here. Do I really need that new thing I've spotted? Can I without reservation make the commitment of time and energy and "as long as we both shall live" that it takes to care for another living being?
My life is full. I have a big family when you count up all the humans and horses and pony and donkeys and Corgis and kit-meows. My family brings me love and joy on a moment-by-moment basis. The work it takes to keep us all fed and watered and happy is also huge.
I have a lot of stuff. Some of it brings me joy each day. Some brings me joy when I remember to stop and look at it. Some of that stuff is here only because it has been here so long I no longer consider its usefulness or its beauty. Before I add to that catalogue, I will think twice.
And no, I'm not saying never to indulge oneself. Because I did, just last week, and right this second I am getting ready to enjoy a cup of tea in my new mug.