I didn’t count myself in either. But I realised that greed is not only about money and wealth. And that’s why I know I am greedy.
Today’s post starts with some lines by Mark Nepo, American poet and philosopher.
We suffer, often unknowingly, from wanting to be in two places at once, from wanting to experience more than one person can. This is a form of greed, of wanting everything. Feeling like we’re missing something or that we’re being left out, we want it all. But being human, we can’t have it all. The tension of all this can lead to an insatiable search, where our passion for life is stirred, but never satisfied. When caught in this mindset, no amount of travel is enough, no amount of love is enough, no amount of success is enough.
I am not saying that we shouldn’t explore our curiosity and venture into the unknown. I very much want to experience the world and love to encounter new people in my life. What I’m referring to here is that seed of lack that makes us feel insufficient, and then, somehow, to compensate, we start to race through life with one eye on what we have and one eye on what we don’t.
Greed is not restricted to money. It can work its appetite on anything. When we believe we are behind or less than, we somehow start to want more than we need, as if what we don’t have will fill in our pain and make us feel whole, as if the thing we haven’t tasted will be the thing to bring us alive. The truth is that one experience taken to heart will satisfy our hunger to be loved by everyone.
When you badly want something, you feel it in the body. Your heart beats faster, you have butterflies in the stomach and you can’t think of anything else. And then you get it. The first moment feels great. The second is ok. The third you already forgot you have it, as you focus on what’s next. How often does it happen to us that wanting something generates a much stronger feeling than having it. It’s curious how we can’t enjoy just what we have, how the grass is always greener on the other side, how greedy we are.
Consider some everyday moments of life:
Buying stuff we like. You see that handbag, smartphone, car, shoes, whatever. The image comes back to your mind again and again. You picture yourself holding in your hands, you feel the texture, love the color. You need to have it! And once you got it, you’re already looking out for new things to buy.
Promotion. You deserve it, you’ve worked so hard. You can already see yourself earning a better salary, having more power, getting recognition. And the day comes. You’re proud of yourself. You open a bottle of champagne or party all night. For a day or a week you’re happy. Then you start looking for the next goal.
Relationships. You fall in love and can’t think of anyone else then THIS one person. You start dating, move in together, fall into a routine. You catch yourself looking at other men or women, as the person waiting for you at home is taken for granted.
Holidays and travelling. You’ve always wanted to see the Niagara Falls. Or the Grand Canyon. Or the Eiffel Tower. You’ve been looking forward so long, and finally you get to see it! You smile, make a selfie. After you arrive home you search the internet for your next travel.
The list goes on.
The greed for more things, more experiences, more money, more power or more love is a constant companion of your life. And unless you realise that you’ll never be satisfied. You’ll be jumping from one thing to the next, like a monkey.
Give yourself a break. What is on your mind that you want or need? Is it worth it? Take a moment and think about it.
Don’t forget to be grateful for what you have.
Simplicity is powerful.
The greedy one gathered all the cherries,
while the simple one tasted
all the cherries in one.
– Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening
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