I thought long and hard whether to buy this skirt at Salvation Army. I absolutely love the fabric (it is gauze, and the print is beautiful) but there is an awful lot of it, and the length is a little weird. I asked myself if I needed a new skirt (no), if I could think of at least five different ways to wear it (yes, easily), if I could take it from one season to the next (yes, gauze and all), if the colour was right for me (absolutely), if the price was acceptable ($4.99 - not bad). And then I came back to the question of need. When I posted the picture of the pretty Doc Martens a few days back, asking if I could have them, Mette asked me if I needed them. Ever since, I've given some thought to the idea of need.
So no, I didn't need a new skirt. I don't really need anything, because I have plenty of clothes. And it doesn't stop there, because need is a weird concept. If you really think about it, we don't really need much at all. Can anyone really justify needing two pairs of jeans, or more than two pairs of shoes? We don't really need TV, books, or the internet - we can easily survive without them. We don't really even need music or art, and we can cope without family, friends, or love. There might be consequences if we decide that we don't need to pay taxes or obey the law, but we can actually choose over all potential needs we might have. The more I think about it, need is a pretty vague, empty concept in our comfortable, privileged Western lives.
As you can tell, I bought the skirt. No, I didn't need it. I chose to want it. I guess for me anyway, the concept of want is easier than need. I am not talking about just caving in to any random want (we all have many, don't we); I mean that getting to the bottom of want is a little more complicated and demanding. Want requires the person to go through an intellectual process of justification: Why do I want this? Do I want it badly, or just a little bit? Do I really want this, or something else entirely? By definition, there is no going around in circles around the question of need: either you need something or you don't. You can't really need something a little, or a lot. Need has an in-built justification in it, and we don't stop to ask questions about what need really even is. Come on, be honest, how many times you've thought that you needed a new pair of shoes when you actually had 20 pairs in the closet already? Or what does it mean when we say that we need a new winter coat? Does it mean that we are shivering out in the cold, or that our old coat looks worn and unfashionable? In our world of plenty, to talk about need is a bit of a cop-out. I guess the challenge, then, is to keep our wants in check. It is important to keep asking questions. The questions we ask ourselves will define our actions.
I am wearing a second hand top and a much-wanted skirt from Salvation Army, and yes, once again, the Fluevog boots. They are the best! Speaking of the best, cats are it: