What Is It About Wanting?

I want to see Hamilton. I want to go to Great Wolf Lodge. I want the Dyson cordless vacuum.

There are a lot of things I want, varying from the mundane and material to the grand and honorable. Hey, it’s good to have ambitions and dreams and desires. Recently I have been spending a lot of energy wanting these things in particular, inspired by some very convincing commercials and the Twitter-sphere. I talk about how great the new local Great Wolf Lodge must be, how we should go while the facility is still new and the staff still want to impress. When I’m cleaning the living room with our ancient cord vacuum I daydream about Dyson. And if you’re not following Lin-Manuel Miranda on Twitter, you are missing out.

A couple weeks ago, that beautiful sleek Dyson commercial came on while I was watching TV with my dad. There is simultaneously no reason and many reasons I should be obsessed with this vacuum cleaner (somebody give that ad exec a bonus). I am describing these reasons and the lower-than-expected price to my dad when he suggests that when I move into my first apartment this year that he will buy it for me as a house-warming gift.

This is where I balk.

Is it about the money? I’ve always had a bit of a problem with spending money, even on things I really want or need (shout out to my car which has needed an oil change for 6+ months). My dad can afford a big gift for me right now – you can get that stupid vacuum for about $250 and we just saved a semester’s worth of tuition! If I saved a little I could afford to buy it myself! Do I not think that I deserve a nice vacuum cleaner? That I’m not worth it?

I don’t mean to get hung up on this vacuum cleaner (though Dyson should seriously sponsor me, I talk about it all the time). My dad also tells me to hurry up and buy a night at Great Wolf Lodge. Similarly, it would be a splurge of an outing but would not break the bank! I even have the flexibility in my schedule right now to go on a  weeknight which is cheaper! Why won’t I buy it?

I read once that an important part of enjoying an experience, like a trip or a concert, is the anticipation. The planning, the looking at pictures, the reading guide books, the talking about what you’re going to do when you get there. This planning and anticipation combined with the post-experience remembering can often be more enjoyable than the experience itself.

Often times for me, that anticipation rapidly turns into anxiety the moment that concert tickets are booked or an Amazon order is placed. I’m anxious that I’ll get into a car accident on the way there, or I’ll have a panic attack during the show, or simply that this book or album or pair of shoes will be disappointing and sit in my closet taunting me for months. For events and experiences like that, I will be anxious for about two weeks leading up the event, during the entire event, and I will only start to enjoy the experience at all when I am remembering it.

Right now there is no vacuum for me in the mail, no Great Wolf Lodge trip written on the calendar, (and you can forget about affording Hamilton tickets). Without this anxiety-producing commitment, I am living comfortably in the land of wanting. Wanting is all the joys of anticipation without any of the anxiety! These desires are within the realm of possibility, so I don’t have to feel sad about knowing that I’ll never achieve them. But I get to visualize and hypothetically plan and read about without the pressure of money or a specific deadline. And there’s no chance of disappointment!

I’m slightly concerned that I am trying to transform a personal flaw into a positive trait through some weird form of logic. I’m having a great time without spending a lot of money, but I’m also not experiencing things fully. Kendall Jenner would not approve. But I don’t want to think too much about that. I want to enjoy the feeling of desire, enjoy the discussing and hypothetical planning. There’s an earnestness in liking and wanting that I’m appreciating. Maybe I’ll buy that vacuum eventually and it won’t disappoint, maybe not.

In the mean time, I want it.



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