Greed is not an instinct. We learn it early when our peers are interested in our toys and when the objects of our desire are not reachable immediately. So as soon as we get them we make sure not to give them away. Our second or third word is “Mine!”
My Mom told me a sweet story illustrating my greed when I was a child. I just got a tricycle as a present. I loved going with it in the yard of our block of flats. And I was sure not to give it to anyone. It was mine and I had to guard it as anything else I owned. My mother tried to convince me to share the tricycle with my friends. And I did share it. One of my friends had it for the whole meter or two. After that I stopped her and said: “You had enough. Give it back.”
As many adults with families, I started to value time and experiences more than things. Even books I love most – and I am a book worm, I must say – are not kept but given further. I love sharing them with friends and family.
So, I thought that valuing things less made me less affected by greed. Yesterday I proved myself wrong.
As anyone else, I have some tasks, which I push away from me and I procrastinate. One of these tasks was attracting my attention again and again, and I made a few starting attempts. I also tried to ignore it, to say “I don’t have to do it”, or “I would do something else instead”. But nothing helped. I had to do it. And in fact, I wanted to do it. It just took longer to see the results.
So, I decided to be kind to myself, to motivate myself and do very small steps. First arrange things into groups, then see how they feet, rearrange where necessary, and add missing pieces. Then adjust and finish.
It took me more than half a day yesterday to restart and finish the task. So, I had a few breaks for my family, for meals and housework in-between. For the things like ironing.
I like to iron clothes. Not every time. But many times I do. Yesterday, I couldn’t. I knew there was not much to finish the task, I started, and that I would manage it. This was not what was bothering me.
My thoughts were going again and again to the other tasks I pushed away. I wasn’t in the moment. I was thinking what I would do to accomplish them. The complexity I saw in them was reappearing. Besides, I couldn’t do them in that particular moment anyway. I was ironing! However, I still couldn’t stop thinking about these “heavy tasks”.
But why? Why was I striving for heavy tasks? Why wasn’t I enjoying the activity, which made me see the results immediately and which brought me often satisfaction and relaxation?
The answer was both surprising and simple. I wanted more. I wanted more of this good feeling of accomplishing and completing a difficult task. I couldn’t get enough. I wanted all and I wanted all in that moment. I thought of all the tasks I classified as difficult and I wanted to work on all of them at the same time.
As soon as I heard “I want more!” in my head, I had to smile. I was greedy! And strangely enough this realization didn’t make me ashamed or angry. Why should it? This feeling went away as soon as I smiled. I could breathe more freely again. And I finished ironing enjoying this activity again.
Greed is not an instinct, but it is natural to us, whatever the age. We can strive for things, experiences, smiles of others, joy and love we bring to and receive from others. Desire moves us forward, greed squeezes us and makes us unmovable. But it is also a helping indicator that we are off center and that we strive for something, which does us no good. And as soon as we notice the child in ourselves crying: “But I want it! I want more!” we can smile and come back to the wonderful place of the moment of now and see how wealthy we are, having family and friends, having activities which bring us joy and wealthy by simply being alive.
Picture: Strangely enough I wasn’t that eager to keep the toy in this picture. I was angry with the studio photographer, who took this picture, and have thrown the toy at him.