As we were reviewing Andi Green’s The Monster Who Wanted it All for this issue’s BookShelf, about the little monster, Zelly, who could never be satisfied with what he had, I remembered one of the many memorable characters from “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,” – Veruca Salt. Veruca was the poor little rich girl who demanded everything, even an Oompa Loompa. It eventually led to her demise – right down the chute with the other bad eggs.
When I thought about it, Zelly and Veruca would fit right into our “instant everything” society. We want instant food, instant careers, instant fame, instant news, instant (not necessarily lasting) relationships…basically, we want instant gratification in every aspect of our lives. Technology makes that easier, and the more we get quickly, the more we want immediately! I have to wonder how we can keep up the pace. And if we do, will we be satisfied with our instant everything existence or will we just feel empty and out of control?
Zelly and Veruca also have a problem with greed. They don’t just want everything they see, they want everybody else’s stuff too, and it’s never enough. Sound familiar? When it just takes a few keystrokes and a credit card to buy anything from shoes to sofas, tablets to toys, it’s easy to see why we are more likely to click now and contemplate later – when the bill is due. It was a lot harder when we had to sock away our savings until we had enough to pay for what we wanted. Working to pay for what we bought before we bought it also made us think long and hard about how we spent our hard-earned dollars. And what we wound up purchasing had a lot more value to us.
When we jump on the super consumer merry-go-round, it’s hard to get off. The more we want, the more we spend, the more we work, the more we want, the more we spend…the spinning gets faster and faster! And even while we are spinning out of control, a voice in our head keeps saying, “but you deserve it, you need it, you shouldn’t have to wait for it, everybody else has it why shouldn’t you?” So we keep spinning.
Hold everything! (I’m getting dizzy.) Delayed gratification doesn’t have to mean denied gratification. It just takes forethought and planning to maintain balance and sanity in what, when and how we consume. It also takes prioritization, and quieting the Zellys and Verucas inside us. It’s the difference between impulse and decision-making, insatiable need and contentment. It also just might keep us from going down the chute with the other bad eggs.