I Don’t Need You, But I Want You Anyway

From time to time I note that I greatly dislike Black Friday and the commercialism of this day [1], but contrary to my usual practice I spent some time and some money shopping. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this time was spent at a bookstore in Estacada.  If there is one sort of store where I reflect most often on the subject of temptation, it is a bookstore, because, as one of the books that a friend of mine found for me put it, I am quite familiar with the phenomenon of book lust [2].  To be sure, I am familiar with other forms of lust as well, but they end up being rather closely related to my book lust, in that I enjoy eating with such people and spending time with them and getting to know them and understanding what they are about, and it is that desire to completely understand them and explore them and know what they are about from the gifts that they possess that they may not be aware of to developing the deepest sort of intimacy in many layers that are shared in my views of people and books, coupled usually with a desire to write about them often and at considerable length.

But enough about my lusts for now, since the thought that I desire them would likely be enough to fill many people with a sense of immense horror and dread.  It is enough to say that I want books in my life often, and it is one of the desires in my life that I am well equipped to fulfill, in contrast to others.  Yet as much as I want books, they are not something that I need.  I could certainly survive without books in the way that most other people could survive without them.  To be sure, it would be a less enjoyable life than I enjoy, but it could be lived.  Books are not necessary for my survival, in the sense that food and water and shelter are necessities.  If they are needs, they are needs on a different level, needs of belongingness and love, perhaps, or needs of self-esteem or cognition or self-actualization, depending on the book and my purpose for reading it.  To be sure, the same sort of needs are present when it comes to people, where it might be possible for me to live as a near hermit, isolated and cut off from people, even though it would be far more pleasant and enjoyable to live with a sense of intimacy with others.

There are a great many people, especially insecure ones, who have a deep longing to be needed.  Celine Dion sang movingly that she wanted to be needed like the air her husband breathed.  But is that healthy?  A husband may make it so that his wife cannot go out on her own or do any activity on her own, or spend any money without his knowing about it, but does that dependency make her life any better?  Does being needed, in the sense of absolute deprivation, really show us as being all that important?  It shows that we are afraid of freedom, and that we believe that others would not choose to have anything to do with us if they had any choice in the matter.  God could make it so that we were so utterly dependent on Him for anything that we would have to grovel and beg for the merest scrap of what was necessary for survival, but the result would not be love but rather abuse.  And many women wish to be needed by their children, but the result can be a prolonged period of immaturity where adult children fail to take up the reins of adulthood and responsibility but complain about the food that mother cooks, or about the laundry that she does and mistakes who it belongs to, and the result of that dependency is not love or respect but rather a taking advantage of a situation and a refusal to grant the love and respect that is wanted by the one doing the favors and keeping the apron strings tight.  Love is not love that is coerced in any fashion, be it by thunderous abuse or nagging and devoted but unrewarded service.

What is the lesson here, and what does book lust have to do with avoiding the need for co-dependency?  My passion for books, like my passion for love and intimacy with the right lady, is based on longing and desire but not based on need.  I have lived alone long enough, and in places where books are scarce enough, that I know I can survive and endure without either in my life.  Whether or not such a life would be worth living indefinitely is a different matter, but it can be done if necessary.  When I love a book, or when I love a person, the care and concern I have is an obligation that I have freely chosen for myself, and is undertaken whether or not the book or person is worthy in the least of the time and attention and concern and affection I give.  Such an obligation is cheerfully fulfilled, even where it does not work out the way or the level or the length that I would like it to.  Nor do I wish for the books or the people which I love to be dependent on me.  To be sure, the people I love would likely be able to fulfill their needs being alone or with others, and the books I love would be content to be in library stacks or bookshelves in bookstores or in personal collections of others.  I would hope that the people I love would love me in return, but I can no more coerce their intimacy than I could coerce it from the author of those books which I love.  If we are to be loved and wanted, it must be according to the free will of those who we have offered our heart to, and they can always refuse to love us as we love them, or refuse to have anything to do with us whatsoever.  To the extent that we wish for any love to be genuine, it must be freely given, and therefore we can have no perfect security, but must always be subject to the risk that we will have loved and wanted in vain.

[1] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2011/11/25/when-gratitude-doesnt-last-a-musing-on-black-friday/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2013/11/29/a-crisis-of-gratitude-on-the-confluence-of-hanukkah-thanksgiving-and-predatory-commercialism/

[2] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016/10/02/book-review-at-home-with-books/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016/02/23/it-is-a-truth-universally-acknowledged-that-a-bibliophile-must-be-in-want-of-more-books/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2014/08/27/so-hard-to-resist-temptation/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2014/05/05/lead-us-not-into-temptation/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2013/12/10/a-test-of-willpower/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2013/02/17/the-valley-of-the-shadow-of-books/

 

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About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in Christianity, Love & Marriage, Musings and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to I Don’t Need You, But I Want You Anyway

  1. Pingback: Hopeless Romantic | Edge Induced Cohesion

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