Wednesday, May 11, 2011

We Can't Get No Satisfaction...

Hello Internet!

This will be my first foray into the realm of the bearded thoughts..and its an interesting one.

I was at work the other day, helping a woman find a game that she was looking for.  She had three children with her of various ages.  I'd say the youngest was probably seven or eight with the oldest around 11.  The young son was running around the store asking if he could buy each game he picked up.  The mother was quietly looking through various sections, with the other children content as well.  Eventually she turned down a game he really wanted and he started to throw quite a temper tantrum in the middle of the store.  There really wasn't anyone else shopping at the time so it was really only affecting me and his mother.  She was very quiet yet stern with him and he stopped his tantrum.  They eventually left the store..I don't remember if they bought anything but her son didn't get what he wanted.

This incident is not new to me; being in retail for over five years has opened my eyes to how people act, in particular children.  However, this incident combined with my personal thoughts one night stirred up some interesting thoughts about us humans and our wants and desires.  I came to the conclusion that specifically what we "want," what will satisfy us, follows a bell curve.  Our lives begin with us being satisfied by little...and end in a similar fashion.

When we are young we are new to the world and the complexities of an adult life.  Our minds are small and only see the small picture.  We are given small toys to play with; blocks, trains.  As we get a little older we are trusted with action figures and cars..and most small children are satisfied by such things.  Simple gifts such as a ball can entertain and "satisfy" a young child's needs for hours.

Entering into the pre-teen years means an expanded intelligence and a bigger need to fulfill one's desires.  When I was around ten I didn't have any video games; I was content with action figures, toys, lego sets; these days pre-teens are big into electronics.  Video gaming systems, iPods, iPhones, blu ray players...yet those desires are still only a step up from their younger counterparts.

As you approach the teenage years their view widens further.  They begin to see themselves are part of a bigger picture - one that involves a car and going to college.  Yes, teenagers are still electronically inclined (especially in our modern times) but their "wants" increase further to even more expensive and grandiose things.  A car is a big step up from an action figure or even an iPod.  Throw in the cost of a university and the cost of what they want has skyrocketed.  They are no longer satisfied with the trinkets and simple things that just a few years earlier fulfilled them for hours if not days at a time.

When you make it through the college years and approach the quarter-century mark (about where I am) your perspective on the world widens to what it'll most likely remain for the rest of your life.  Post-college you'll need a job to fulfill financial obligations.  But not just any job.  You won't be satisfied with a small wage; you'll have to work your way up through the business world to obtain a wage that will satisfy your desire.  Your mind will turn from wanting an education to wanting (in most cases) a family and a place to live.  Quite a large leap from wanting a iPhone...I'm sure a large portion of us do not rest easy at night knowing that what they want (or what will fulfill them) is so far away.  Finding satisfaction a quarter of the the way into your life is not nearly as easy as when you are but a fraction into your existence.

Now, I can't speak from personal experience but going from the quarter mark to the halfway mark does not change one's satisfaction levels much.  What I can go by is what I've seen with my own eyes; adults, middle-aged, trying to make it in the world, still seeking more money.  However, at this level, most people's drive is to maintain their house and family, while looking to their retirement.  The iPods, LED TVs and computers may not exactly appeal to their inner desires any longer.  Their satisfaction comes in seeing their family expand and for their children to grow and learn.  I know this isn't the case for everyone, but it seems that a majority of middle-age individuals don't have the same satisfaction levels as their younger counterparts..

I feel that this continues into the senior years of one's life.  My grandmother doesn't own a computer (she did for awhile but never used it).  I see her being content with arts and crafts...watching the news, reading the paper.  She doesn't go to movies or watch much on television besides news and religious programming.  She doesn't have a cell phone and wouldn't know how to operate one.  She has a modest car and lives in a small single apartment, alone.  Yet she is always happy and in a generally fantastic mood whenever I see her.  She is always fascinated by my stories involving technology or about my daily experiences.  Her desires and needs have drastically changed from her younger years.  Her drive to satisfy herself come in the form of the small world around her.  Her perspective on the world has shrunk down to levels one experiences much earlier in life.  I'm not saying she doesn't know what's going on - its quite the contrary in fact.   She is much aware of the world's events.  It just doesn't take much to make her happy or to fulfill her desires.

The path of what we require to satisfy us follows the bell curve, from small children requiring but a fraction of their teenage counterparts.  I feel that we reach the peak of what will satisfy us in our middle-aged portion of life.  Our retirement, traveling the world, doing whatever is that we couldn't do in our younger years can be sought.  Going into our twilight years means that our world has condensed; we've done what we wanted with the rest of our lives and what it takes to satisfy us is but a fraction of what it was decades earlier.

I fully understand that this isn't the case for all people; just as in data processing there will always be outliers; the 7-year-old who wants a sixty dollar game (in the instance that planted this intellectual flower) to the 75-year-old who wants to jet ski and own a summer home in Miami.  We are all unique and therefore have different wants and needs and need satisfaction in special ways.  I find it quite fascinating to think about.  How about you, internet?

The Bearded Bullet

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