Steinbeck writes in The Pearl, “It is said that humans are never satisfied, that you give them one thing and they want something more. And this is said in disparagement, whereas it is one of the greatest talents the species has and one that has made it superior to animals that are satisfied with what they have.”
My cat is eating right now, basically the same thing she always eats. She never complains, always excited about what is dropped in her bowl. Her only dissatisfaction comes from not being let outside early enough for her liking in the mornings. But she can’t do anything about it. While she may want more, she has no ability to open doors, and even if we never let her out, she would never figure out how to open doors. She may want more, but she can’t have it.
People are different. They can work themselves out of a jam sometimes. They can figure out how to get more. And that is a curse and a blessing. It is a blessing because we have the capability to feed so many people (and their animals), to heal so many diseases, and to find new ways to love our neighbors. Yet it is a curse. We spend unknown millions frivolously because we are not satisfied. We want the latest gadget, the newest this, and the upgraded that. Once the barrier is broken, and we see beyond what we know, the horizon of want stretches on forever. And this dulls our love for others. The drone of commercialism drowns out contentment’s sighs.
How do you handle the “just one more thing” of life? Do you feel the need to keep up with your neighbor or co-worker or classmate in the latest gadget or fad or style? What would it take for you to be content? Are you sure? Where does true contentment come from?