Wanted Needs

Dear J-

Back when I was in the market for a Palm (and if that one phrase doesn’t speak reams about my psyche …) I had narrowed it down to two choices at approximately the same price. There was the original Sony CLIÉ (which was the PEG-S300 I think?) and the Palm IIIc. I’d bought theVet a TRGpro so that she could laboriously enter some veterinary information by hand for school (which we subsequently never used much and therefore lost the first time the batteries died: when was battery-backed volatile memory without backing up a good idea?) and I knew about what to expect from the monochrome screen but everyone said the color screen was SO NICE and therefore that’s the one I picked. I still don’t know if it was the right choice, the CLIÉ came with a jog wheel which sounded handy if you didn’t want to tie up both hands.

There is a compromise in feature sets that lets you break the logjam and decide NOW if that’s what you want. Sure, you could wait for the next one which will always have nicer things, but that ends up in being a singular exercise in waiting for the next, and the next after that, and the next beyond as well. You’re never going to get everything you want; there’s always going to be something to compromise. If your primary criterion is cost then you’re willing to budge on other items, so be it. Part of the way my head works (or doesn’t work, in this case) is trying to reconcile some perceived need for NOW with the refusal to compromise. Well, sure: I don’t need a mechanical keyboard, but if I did the one I’d need would have to be in good shape, fairly standard layout (to keep the muscle memory adequate) and possibly ergonomic. Oh, and cheap, too, right? This is how I end up with a roomful of stuff I don’t use: if you take the union of their feature sets it’s more than enough that I don’t have to compromise but that’s silly too: how do you use more than one at a time? Oh, this one is good for this purpose, but then for something else you need to switch to this one instead. Not.

I feel the little justifications in my head like the worm in Corpse Bride telling me well gawd, this is why you need more than one thing to do that. You need a music player, because the phone doesn’t have enough storage otherwise. You need a flashlight too. You need. I keep confusing need with want and it drives everyone nuts. I need. No, not exactly. I think I need means I want. Right now all we need is a house, and even that isn’t the strongest need in the world. (he says with a sneer, curve of the lip indicating depth of feeling, until he realizes the sneer is directed inwardly, towards the gnawing inside that comes from plugging things into emotional wants.) It’ll drive you nuts, these things.

Mike

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