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“Before we set our hearts too much upon anything, let us examine how happy they are who already possess it” – La Rochefoucauld.

Debbie and I frequently take short walks, and along our various ways, I often think, “We could buy this car, or that house, or get a dog like that one.” “Or wouldn’t we be happier if we owned that fancy new car?” “Wow, that beautiful place is for sale.”

Actually, all of these questions are asked in jest, because the answer is inevitably no. We discuss the pros and cons for a little, but we are content where we are, and the benefits of having various particular new things comes with a downside. For example, moving to a new house would entail months of distraction from our comfortable lives. Our time is now filled with things we like doing, and our last experience, five years ago, moving to a new house took months of time and effort. It was tiring, but fun too, but the big problem was that we didn’t want our lives to be that of furniture movers. That included being book movers too, which was the biggest job. We still haven’t sorted them all out – even with valiant efforts on her part.

Another problem with moving is things get lost. There are things I know we have somewhere, in the various boxes of storage, but they are lost where they are, and I have other more interesting things to be doing than digging through old stuff. Moving to a new house would just stir up the rubble again, and make things even more random. Simplifying for me, at this point, is to concentrate on what I am doing at the moment, and let the rest just settle in.

Getting a new car has many of the same problems. After the icy roads a year and a half ago, I decided to get a four-wheel-drive Subaru Outback. That was a good decision because it really does better in ice and snow. Here in Bend, Oregon, there isn’t that much of a problem, but for several days driving did require extra caution. I did get stuck in snow a couple of times, and couldn’t go uphill from a stop light one time because of ice.

The problem with this new car is that there are new buttons on the dashboard with microscopic icons on them that are inscrutable. Okay, it’s nice having a seat warmer, and rear windshield washers, and the ability to open various windows from the driver’s seat, and remote locking devices, but they are distractions from basic getting from one place to another. I do like having an air-conditioner, it’s nice even in this temperate town, but it takes three independent essentially unlabeled controls, and manipulating four multi-function louvered holes to make it just right. Getting into the car when it has been sitting in the hot sun for an hour requires getting the air conditioner going at maximum right away, but over the next few minutes it needs to be adjusted. That wouldn’t be a problem, except that I’m supposed to know all of this and control those things while negotiating traffic. Why buy a new car when all of those buttons and other controls, and more too, will be redistributed? Won’t the new luxury items just create more confusion and stress for me?

Maybe I would be happier if I possessed all of those things, and all of the other fantastic new goodies that my computer is offering me, too. But they come at a mental price as well as a monetary one, and I come back to my basic question …

How will I feel when I get what I think I want?

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